Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Masciotra. Tanzer. Springsteen. The Chicago Literary Scene Examiner Interview, Part Two.

More Masciotra. More Tanzer. More Springsteen. More excerpt. And much more appreciation for The Chicago Literary Scene Examiner.

EX: Every time I listen to “Born To Run”, I get that teenage excitement to discover the world right now. I think it's the horns. Who is the literary equivalent of either a) The Boss or b) one of The Boss's songs/albums and why.

BT: I had this girlfriend in high school who once said to me that she would be happy as long as some guy at some point said to her "You ain't a beauty but hey you're alright," which is a line from “Thunder Road”. This says a couple things to me, one she didn't know how attractive she was, but more importantly that I probably grew-up in a small town and that I probably grew-up in the northeast, though possibly in the mid-west. This woman was dying to get away from our hometown and dying to do something, and be something, she wasn't yet, but thought she could be once she escaped. And this is what Bruce writes about on “Born to Run,” a yearning to be noticed and to escape the confines of home and youth and class. I say all this, because I think that means that certain books and writers could almost fit here, but just aren't quite right. The Basketball Diaries for example has some of this, but it’s almost too cool, and we certainly can't count a story about someone who doesn't want to escape their hometown especially when its New York City, a place that the characters in “Born to Run” want to escape to. Similarly, On the Road and Catcher in the Rye capture some of this vibe, but they're not quite right either, not for what you're asking. Given this, I'm going to suggest two local writers, Don DeGrazia and Joe Meno, and their two most popular works, American Skin and Hairstyles of the Damned. Both are working class, both are centered on youth and escape, and both have a strong grounding in music, though in these cases it’s punk, not rock, something I think Bruce could live with. David?

DM: “Born to Run” is about individual conquest, but it is also about the discovery of the meaning and power of love, and the participation in a just and enduring community. It encourages individuality, but not without connecting it to one's sense of integrity, act of creativity, and commitment to community. It also begins Springsteen's tradition of love talk that goes on uninterrupted throughout his career--love being not just some cheap sentimentality, but the steadfast concern for the well-being of others. Springsteen acknowledged this in live introductions to the acoustic version of the song, saying the song is about "two people trying to find their way home," and that "individual freedom with a larger community ends up feeling pretty meaningless." This is a deep and profound message in a market-driven culture that discourages communal connection and altruistic bonds empathy. It also flips the script on the market's conception of individuality, which tells people "you are your cell phone ring tone," or "you are your sneaker."

In Working On a Dream, I make literary comparisons between Springsteen and Dostoevsky, Steinbeck, and Cormac McCarthy. Steinbeck is pretty easy and straight forward considering Springsteen has a song and album called "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Throughout Nebraska, Springsteen explores the dark depths of the human psyche and the painful consequences of isolation in Dostoevskian fashion, with particular similarities to Crime and Punishment. The father and son in The Road, McCarthy's epic classic, are guided by love for each other and a commitment to goodness they call "carrying the fire." Too often people make theoretical objections to consumer culture, market-driven society, and greed, but fail to make the individual changes that need to accompany the conceptual protest. "Carrying the fire" is an expression that encapsulates making those individual changes, and "The Promised Land" is an anthemic tribute to making those changes.

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