Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Feeling the Influence of the Boss Again

I am always amused at how my consumption of pop culture tends to come and go in floods. Nowhere is this more obvious than in music. I tend to gorge myself on an artist or band, then move on to another, rinse, repeat.

Springsteen consistently returns to me, soothes me, reaffirms me, and arms me to keep fighting, in the face of my darkest and most disillusioned times. Which, frankly, I am very much in right now. I keep coming back to his lessons about endurance and commitment. All this will pass, you must simply...work through it.

"And you've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above"
- from Tunnel of Love

 His work speaks to me on such an intimate, immediate, emotional level. He grapples with the biggest questions facing our society, and never lets the focus grow beyond the immediate. The personal. He never writes about class struggle, he writes about the man who toils in the the factory, or the woman in the car wash. He doesn't write about immigration policy, he writes about two Mexican brothers with no option but working in a meth lab in the Southwestern desert, or turtles eating the eyes of a poor traveler who didn't quite make it across the Rio Grande.

I wish more chroniclers of our times could make this simple connection...big ideas are based on personal stories, and personal stories are what can change hearts and minds. Tell a person's story, and it doesn't have to be positive, negative, or anything else. It has to be honest. That's all. Don't wrap it in a agenda. Just tell the fucking story. Trust the audience to make up their own damn mind.

"And the poets down here don't write nothing at all. They just stand back and let it all be"
- from Jungleland

I have struggled with my story. In my acting, in my music, in my life. I have felt lost far, for more often than I have not. I have felt abandoned, betrayed and misled. I have felt my time wasted, time that grows more and more precious to me as the proverbial little crystal in my palm hews more and more toward red. I have felt faith betrayed and loyalty shit on...

...and here I stand.

"Born down in a dead man's town. The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much. Till you spend half your life just covering up"

Waiting for that spark of inspiration. Waiting for faith to be rewarded. Waiting for my own skills and abilities to carry me onward. Waiting for belief. Waiting for brotherhood.

It's no secret that, musically, I would love to be Springsteen-esque. I harbor a dream of a sound that is like Zeppelin fronted by Bruce. The powerful hard rock musicality merged with Springsteen's storytelling. I may not have the actual skill to accomplish it, but I reach for it. The challenge drives me onward.

As an actor, I yearn for the honest moment that The Boss always finds on stage, in his own idiom. The moment where performer and audience merge with an emotional release that illuminates something primal. There are moments when it comes, for me, they are fleeting but pure. I marvel at how the man can extend it to shows that stretch to three hours, or more. It's an act. We know that. I wasn't really Randall P. McMurphy, or Milt Shanks, either, but the connection, and the emotion, is real.

At this moment, as I write, Bruce is playing. I need him now. My strength is low, my faith is broken, but the work must be done.

There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

The dogs on Main Street howl
'Cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land

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