Back in March, we enjoyed The Blue Highways Out On The Line album, going so far as to suggest they had “a Boss like grip” on their gritty Americana.
Duly inspired, we’re joined At The Barrier by Jack Lury from The Blue Highways who (along with us at ATB HQ) has a soft spot and huge admiration for the E Street Band.
My life changed at approximately 8:30 on the 19th December 2007. I had skipped school and queued all day, and it was at this moment that the E Street Band walked onto the stage at the O2 Arena in London and tore into a 3 hour set that fundamentally changed my life. It changed my conception of what a band could be. What it should be.
The E Street Band is inseparable from Springsteen, but at the same time, it is a prime example of two things being greater than the sum of their parts. Springsteen functioning as the greatest band leader in the world, commanding the greatest band, the E Street Band. Each enabling the other to do what they do best.
That first live experience was also responsible for making me pick up the electric guitar. Prior to this I had started learning the guitar mostly to strum along to a few songs I liked. I came home after this gig, and instantly started to learn lead. The 2 minutes and 52 seconds of Nils Lofgren soloing in this video changed my life. I’m now onto E
Street Band gig number 50ish…
I would have first heard the E Street Band when I was a young child, Springsteen CDs being a staple in car journeys growing up. But it was the discovery of the live 1975-85 box set that really opened my eyes, and ears, to the musicians in the band itself. That’s because when I think of the E Street Band, most of what I think of is them playing
live. Through teenage years I would put on disc 3, turn my cd player to its lowest volume and listen to it as I went to sleep. They became from then on the soundtrack to my life.
The sound of the band is first and foremost where my love for the band comes from. But beyond that, perhaps what makes the E Street Band unique, and particularly noteworthy, is their adaptability. All accomplished musicians in their own right, many fronting their own bands, then coming together to play support act to Springsteen (there’s a reason Tom Morello was prepared to come and fill in as 3rd guitarist when Steve van Zandt had to break from touring a few years back). And with that level of experience and musicianship there are simply no other bands in the world who are playing to 70,000 peopleand choose to play unrehearsed songs….by other bands!
Check out You Never Can Tell from Leipzig in 2013…
I was already a huge Springsteen, and E Street Band fan, but it wasn’t until I had seen them live that I really had a true appreciation for the band. The way that Clarence and Steve would act as foils to Bruce; how Max never for a second took his eye off Bruce so he could adapt to anything he might do; how Roy and Danny’s keyboard licks would crop up
to fill any space that appeared in the music; how Nils’ solos would evolve night after night; how Gary held the entire thing together with his rock solid bassline.
The Blue Highways get a reasonable amount of Springsteen comparisons when we’re reviewed (which is either a blessing or a curse depending on your point of view…). But arguably a closer reference point, at least for the instrumental music itself, would be the E Street Band. In truth, we don’t think about how the E Street Band might arrange a song, but the music is so internalised at this point that we really don’t have to. We probably are (far less successfully) emulating choices that they might make.
We might think we fail on a gig by gig basis to emulate our musical heroes, but at the same time, there is no more gratifying comment for us to receive than one that even puts us in the same paragraph as the E Street Band.
In short, I love the E Street Band because, quite simply, I would not play in a band if they didn’t exist.
Our thanks to Will for taking time to introduce us to one of his inspirations and influences.
Here’s The Blue Highways rocking ou on Nobody Lives. Here Anymore:
Blue Highways photo by Matt George Lovett.
You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists on an even wider array of subjects, here.