Backstreets magazine, which has been covering all things Springsteen and setting the standard for high-music fanzines since 1980, is going out for a ride and not coming back.
Like so much in modern music, it’s Ticketmaster’s fault:
If you read the editorial Backstreets published last summer in the aftermath of the U.S. ticket sales, you have a sense of where our heads and hearts have been: dispirited, downhearted, and, yes, disillusioned. It’s not a feeling we’re at all accustomed to while anticipating a new Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour. If you haven’t yet read that editorial (“Freeze-out,” July 24, 2022), or the crux of Springsteen’s response to Rolling Stone in November, we encourage you to do so; we don’t want to rehash those issues, but we stand behind our positions and points.
We’re not alone in struggling with the sea change. Judging by the letters we’ve received over recent months, the friends and longtimers we’ve been checking in with, and the response to our editorial, disappointment is a common feeling among hardcore fans in the Backstreets community.
Side note: loath as I am to either commend Senator Klobuchar for, well, anything, or to recommend anything from WNYC’s generally loathsome On The Media, this past week’s episode breaks down the history of Ticketmaster’s toxic impact on music. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s worth a listen:
As to Springsteen?
I’ve seen him probably half a dozen times over the years. I’m not sorry to say some of those shows were pivotal moments in my life – in some ways, I wouldn’t be who or where I am today if I hadn’t been there.
While my interest in his music has waxed and waned over the years – his first two and 2-3 most recent albums are very good, most of his stuff since about 2005 sailed right past me, the records from his break from the E-Street Band (Human Touch, Lucky Town and Ghost of Tom Joad) were a swing and a miss, and the “Holy Trinity” (Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River), Nebraska, Tunnel of Love and The Rising are as good as popular music gets, and in comparison Born in the USA is merely great – underneath it all i’ve been fascinating to watch how Springsteen has kept himself and his fans in a state of creative churn trying not to turn into a nostalgia act dragging a troupe of nostalgia act fans around the world. And even though I might go ten years without enjoying (or buying) one of his records, for that, I’m grateful.
So I’m not going to say I’m not going to keep an eye peeled for a much, much better price for next month’s shows at the X, for old times sake. He won’t be touring forever.
But the extent to which even Bruce – who, 40 years ago, was gutting Big Scalper before there was a Pearl Jam – has been assimilated is…
…well, Backstreets‘s op-ed calls it ‘disappointing”, and I can’t disagree. Bruce sounds a lot like a politician in explaining his position, stuck between the most loyal fan base in music and Ticketmaster and Live Nation…
…who are no less greedy and soulless a bunch of “bosses” as the musachioed villains in the Pete Seeger songs Bruce memorialized (checks notes) 17 years ago.
Disappointing. I’ll stick with that.
(Note: Don’t like Bruce? Take it up elsewhere. Bruce hate will be culled without mercy or comment. Take it up with JB Doubtless – if you can find him. As the sage said, I’m still here, he’s all gone).