If you don't know what I'm talking about then have a look at this suitably ridiculous cover of "Whip My Hair", which includes a guest appearance by Bruce Springsteen. I happened to stumble on it again last night and, in need of inspiration for Cover Thursdays, decided that I could do no worse than focusing on The Boss.
Like all cultural icons, Springsteen can invoke a pretty mixed response. An easy target in many ways, sure, but I'm pressed to ask, "So what?" Who cares if you stick to 4/4 time signature verses, followed by rousing choruses? Is it a problem to for an artist to actually play his guitar, throw in a few piano pieces, the odd harmonica solo, and (awesome) sax? Not as far as I'm concerned. Some people seem to forget that music has to be first listenable before it can be groundbreaking; not the other way around. Don't get me wrong, I like it as much as the next punter when one package delivers both, but you don't need to find the next incarnation of Ziggy Stardust with every new album. Plus, there's no shame in knowing your audience and speaking directly to them them.
Now, The Boss has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years and many of the biggest bands of the decade, from The Killers to Arcade Fire, clearly owe more than a passing reference to his style and song structure. I'm almost ashamed to say that I've yet to make it to Springsteen concert myself (blame geography!). However, I've watched and listened to enough live footage to understand what an amazing performer he — together with his band — is... Putting on frantic live shows twice the length of his younger competitors night after night. And, let's not forget that Springsteen has some set of pipes on him. (Did you know that "Born in the USA" was cut as a live studio take. Show me ten mainstream artists that could hit, let alone hold, those notes today and I'll streak through Asbury Park.)
Speaking of pipes, here's Eddie Vedder — an always safe bet in the covers department — doing "My City of Ruins" during the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors:
Second choice of the day could adversely impact my already shaky credibility, but it's one that I found pretty cool. Sister group Tegan and Sara show off their acoustic version of "Dancing in The Dark" during a radio interview:
Bottom line: Music is like food. And, sure, Bruce can be a little cheesy, but still awesome. If you're into covers, there are literally thousands to choose from. Here is a good place to start. And here's Vampire Weekend taking on "I'm Going Down".