[snip speculation on Springsteen’s experience of 1977 vs. his representation thereof, as an example of the intentional contradictions he encouraged in his SXSW keynote]
tl;dr springsteen is maybe a liar? and we should (and do) love him for it
“It was very easy to miss punk completely in 1977 and most people did.” … okay, but why assume Springsteen’d be one of them?
“God Save The Queen” made a Creem best-of poll in 1977 and, Jesus, I’d hope an actual working musician, whether he owned a record player or not, would be a little better plugged in than your average Creem reader (and I’m saying that as someone who WAS an average Creem reader, though not in 1977 because I was eight and it was hard enough getting an issue past my mom when I was 15, let alone as a child who was more into Andy Gibb back then anyway).
And I don’t mean to stan for Springsteen; I’ll let MMM and my dad do that. What rubs me the wrong way about markrichardson’s post is that whole “this isn’t really important, buuuuut I’m going to go on for several paragraphs about it anyway so that then, when you object to my admitted speculation that I can’t actually support well, I can accuse you of taking it all too seriously” maneuver that I think michelledean once solicited, and got, from her readers an actual name for? I don’t remember what that word was, though, so I’m just going to call it That Obnoxious Passive-Aggressive Thing I Hate.
I just think offering “the idea that if you had ears in 1977 you couldn’t ignore the Sex Pistols is crazy. They hadn’t even done their one U.S. tour” as your justification for nudge-winkingly calling Springsteen a liar on this point is weak sauce—especially given his connection with Patti Smith, especially given that he plainly isn’t saying, “Anyone with ears heard the Pistols” but rather, “Once you heard the Pistols, you couldn’t ignore what your ears were telling you.” I mean, this wasn’t Kurt Cobain sitting around Aberdeen reading rock mags and legitimately wondering what punk sounded like because he had no other exposure to it.
He might be exaggerating how affected he was by it; I don’t know. I don’t imagine it goes over well to be hailed as rock and roll’s future in 1975 and be relegated to its old guard a couple of years later thanks to some jerks with bad teeth. I could buy that his current assessment of The Sex Pistols as “frightening” was more “are you fucking kidding me?” at the time.
But see, I read things like the above and lose all ability to act surprised that artists might want to carefully manage their images by shading things a little. Who wouldn’t, with Prague-summering Pitchfork editors out there ready to pounce at the first sign of inconsistency?
Fine, though: He’s probably full of shit about wanting to rent Badlands.
Additional perspectives! I don’t read Mark as being critical of Springsteen’s attempts at historicization, but his speculation about Springsteen not having heard the Sex Pistols doesn’t hold water, now that you point that out.
Thinking on it, whether or not Springsteen actually bought all those records in 1977 is sort of beside the point. Even without his connections to Patti Smith, he must have been reading the Village Voice when he came to town to play one-off sets, and there was plenty of coverage of the NYC punk scene well before 1977. In other words, there’s just as strong a speculative case to be made that Springsteen was a punk expert! His references to the Sex Pistols certainly don’t sound like lived history, but on reflection, speculation about the “facts” just makes it sound like a question of whether Springsteen is a “poser.” Which, no, but even if yes, who cares?
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