• Columbia Records

It wouldn't be completely accurate to describe myself as a Bruce Springsteen fan, because I don't actually own any of his albums, but there's a reason for that, and I do like the guy. When I worked in radio, I took certain artists for granted, because their records were always available, which means I could play them most any time I wanted. Consequently, I felt like I owned a few even if I was sharing them with dozens of other DJs (when I started out in radio, it was all records and carts and then CDs and carts). I'll get around to Bruce's catalog at some point.

Found this in my Feed a few days ago...and thought about my Dad. It's a lovely version, but not especially fiery. It's hard to invest a quiet song with intensity, but Bruce managed to pull it off.

More significantly, my father was a big fan, so Springsteen recordings were always around. For awhile, he was even a super-fan, i.e. the kind of guy who went to all the shows and collected all the bootlegs (he was particularly impressed by a marathon, three-hour gig at Daly City's Cow Palace). I'm not sure how long that lasted, because my parents were divorced, and I spent more time with my Mom.

Somewhere along the way, though, Dad moved on. I don't think Springsteen had let him down; it just takes a lot of commitment to keep the super-fan business going, and he had other things on his mind. When I went through his effects after his passing, I don't recall seeing any Springsteen releases, but his friends may have appropriated them, which is only fair since they looked after him in his final years (he was suffering from acute bronchitis and congestive heart failure).

Dad in the 70s
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Dad in the '70s

So, I grew up on classics, like 1973's The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle and 1978's Darkness on the Edge of Town. Later, I discovered Springsteen titles on my own, like The River, which came out when I was in high school.

Steeped as I was at the time in punk and new wave, I developed the same kind of affection for it as the Clash's London Calling, the other titanic double-disc recording of 1980 (1979 in the UK). Segueing from Springsteen to the Clash on KWCW made perfect sense to me, even if commercial radio tended to keep those acts apart (at KCMU, I also liked to play cuts from Sesame Street's Born to Add).

Ironically, my Dad heard "Train in Vain" on the radio in San Francisco, and felt inspired to pick up a copy of London Calling. I guess he expected the whole thing to sound like that, but it doesn't, and he hated it. I visited him shortly thereafter, and was thrilled when he asked if I'd like to have it. "Would I?!"

Cheryl Waters played this song on KEXP yesterday, and I was struck by the resemblance to Alan Vega's vocal style. Not completely surprising considering the esteem in which Springsteen holds Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop." Also, Dad loved The Sopranos, and the show made use of the track.

Now whenever I stumble across Springsteen material from the 1970s or early-'80s, I think about my Dad. He enjoyed other artists, too, especially Van Morrison, but something about the Boss's music hit him hard. I wish he was still around so I could ask him why, and I'm sorry I never thought to do so when I could.