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  • Where's the justice for Leonard Peltier... and "justice for all?" Say goodbye; it's Independence Day

    July 4, 2024 Here in the U.S., if nothing else this Independence Day week has made one thing crystal-clear to even the most starry-eyed-and-laughing dreamers among us: No, this is by no means the land where "justice for all" exists. Monday's Supreme Court decision has gotten much attention, of course, and rightfully so, but on the very next day after the Court's decision was announced, the U.S. Parole Commission announced that it once again denied parole to Leonard Peltier , the Native American activist who has been imprisoned for almost fifty years on charges related to the deaths of two F.B.I. agents in a 1975 shootout at Pine Ridge Reservation. Peltier's conviction and imprisonment has been deemed unjust by numerous legal experts and human-rights organizations around the globe for decades. Peltier is also now 79 years old and in poor health. In 1989, Stevie Van Zandt - a.k.a. Little Steven - released his song "Leonard Peltier," distilling the basic facts and history surrounding Peltier's conviction, accompanied by a music-video for the song: Van Zandt was scheduled to speak at Peltier's June 10 Parole Commission hearing, but the Commission ultimately cut the number of witnesses permitted to speak on behalf of Peltier. On July 1, however, Van Zandt contributed an op-ed piece to CNN. It's focused mainly on responding to F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray's statement at the June 10 hearing urging the Parole Commission to deny parole to Peltier, and it's entitled, "I deeply respect the FBI. It’s in that spirit that I say they’re getting this very wrong." Click here to read Stevie Van Zandt's full CNN op-ed piece. Van Zandt also told The New York Times that the F.B.I.'s handling of Peltier's case was “really, really disturbing, and I think hurts the credibility of the F.B.I. to even try and defend it.” Stevie added that denying parole to Leonard Peltier would be “the final terrible chapter in one of the worst, most terrible chapters of American history.” After the Parole Commission announced its denial, Stevie Van Zandt posted the following statement on his social-media: Leonard Peltier's attorneys also issued a statement after the Parole Commission's announcement. It concluded as follows: "Leonard is a prisoner of war. Echoing Frederick Douglass this 4th of July holiday, [we] reflect on his enduring words, 'what have...those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?' We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We will not give up the fight for Leonard - and neither should you."

  • JUST ANNOUNCED: 8/22 TeachRock STORIES FROM THE ROAD benefit w/ "never before seen archival footage"

    July 4, 2024 *** SPECIAL UPDATE (July 16:) TeachRock has just announced a raffle , in which you can enter for as little as $25 for a chance to win the following: 2 seated tickets for this special event, at the table of E Street Horns trombonist Ozzie Melendez , 2 signed Springsteen: Liberty Hall books by Nicki Germaine, and 1 video-call chat with Ozzie Melendez. Click here to enter as often as you wish until 11:59 am ET on Thursday, July 18, 2024. *** Now here's some MUCH more positive and uplifting Stevie Van Zandt-/Independence Day-related news! As per the official announcement , on August 22, 2024 in Asbury Park, NJ, there will be a VERY special benefit event for TeachRock . Here are all of the known details, directly from the official TeachRock announcement: In celebration of Independence Day, we have a special event announcement to share! Film director Thom Zimny will moderate TeachRock's 2024 marquee benefit event, showing never before seen videos of the E Street Band and discussing stories from the road with band members. All funds raised support TeachRock's programs. Stories From the Road, Main Event: Asbury Lanes, 7pm Pictures From the Road, Pre-event: Stone Pony, 4:30pm SPACE IS LIMITED. FOR TABLE RESERVATIONS AND SPONSORSHIP INFORMATION CONTACT MICHAEL-ANN HADERS, MICHAEL@TEACHROCK.ORG CLOSED TO PRESS. THIS WILL BE A PHONE-FREE EVENT, SECURITY BAGS WILL BE SUPPLIED UPON ARRIVAL. Tix are expensive, for sure, but if you and/or your group can afford it, this promises to be a very special evening indeed, with super-rare footage, beautiful photography, and personal memories shared directly by key E Street Band members... all in support of a great cause, of course. Here for your easy reference are the various ticket-purchase options and levels, including the benefits associated with each level, again directly from the official TeachRock announcement : $25,000 The First Song Sponsor Acknowledgment from the stage Logo placements on all promotional materials 6 Guests / private table 6 Guests - private Tour Photography Reception A Signed Pam Springsteen or Rob DeMartin Print 3 Personally Signed Nicki Germaine Springsteen: Liberty Hall Books Ask a Question to E Street Open Bar and Snacks for you and your guests $10,000 The Audible Sponsor Acknowledgment from the stage Logo placements on all promotional materials 4 Guests / private table 4 Guests - private Tour Photography Reception A Signed Pam Springsteen or Rob DeMartin Print 2 Personally Signed Nicki Germaine Springsteen: Liberty Hall Books Open Bar and Snacks for you and your guests $5,000 The Melody Sponsor Acknowledgment from the stage Logo placements on all promotional materials 2 Guests / private table 2 Guests - private Tour Photography Reception A Signed Pam Springsteen or Rob DeMartin Print 1 Personally Signed Nicki Germaine Springsteen: Liberty Hall Books Open Bar and Snacks for you and your guests $2,000 The Last Song Sponsor Acknowledgment from the stage Logo placements on all promotional materials 2 Guests / private table A Signed Pam Springsteen or Rob DeMartin Print 1 Personally Signed Nicki Germaine Springsteen: Liberty Hall Books Open Bar and Snacks for you and your guests $500 The Encore Supporter Logo placements on all promotional materials 1 Guest / Seated A Pam Springsteen or Rob DeMartin Photo Again, for all ticket-purchases, table-reservations, and sponsorship information, please email TeachRock's Michael-Ann Haders at this address: [behind-the-scenes images from the 2024 tour's current European leg by Rob DeMartin; used with permission]

  • Dublin Calling: Herpreet Grewal on Bruce's recent reconnection with his strong Fair City fanbase

    July 7, 2024 EDITOR'S NOTE: On this date, back in 1988, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band performed their first official Dublin, Ireland concert. (The 1985 Slane Castle show was their first official Ireland show, but it actually wasn't performed in Dublin proper, as many still believe incorrectly.) Since then, Dublin has become one of the best places on the planet to catch a Springsteen concert. It's even made the short list of cities in which an officially released Springsteen live album was recorded (2007's Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band - Live in Dublin , also released as a concert film in DVD/Blu-ray formats.) London-based journalist and Letters To You contributor Herpreet Grewal , who's attended several Springsteen/ESB Dublin concerts in the past, recently attended this year's Dublin show: the May 19 gig at Croke Park. Below she shares her experience, accompanied by some of René van Diemen 's beautiful photographs from the event: When Bruce plays Ireland, the atmosphere is like that of a long-lost son coming home. That’s exactly how Dublin felt in the days before his show there. As soon as I left the airport, I could see people in Springsteen t-shirts walking around on the outskirts of the city. On the bus into the city, one elderly Irish fan talked loudly on the phone to someone about arrangements for attending the concert. Bruce had already played gigs in Kilkenny and Cork. Dublin, like the previous two cities, had a bit of a carnival atmosphere in the name of Bruce. I don’t like to exaggerate, but it was certainly true in the city centre. When I left my hotel room for the gig and as I passed through corridors, I could hear occupants in random rooms on either side of me, playing his songs. There were also shop fronts decked out in Springsteen regalia and as I walked to the venue, a number of pubs and cars I passed by were blasting out his hits. Even days later, people on the street outside my window were drunkenly singing "Dancing in the Dark." He is much loved in Ireland, arguably more fiercely than other European countries. One older, rugged Irish man said, “I don’t queue for anyone, but I’ll queue for Brucie.” Friends coming out of the Kilkenny show had been stunned by that gig. Not only had he come out early with his flat cap and done a soundcheck with a few songs, but the show had clocked in at three hours and sixteen minutes! It was going to be hard to beat that. The Ireland shows attract many European and global fans. A lot were out in force and had been queuing for the main general admission pit, days before the gig, as usual. One friend who was queuing also had seen the May 5 concert in Cardiff, Wales and was telling me how he had bumped into Bruce there. He unwittingly found himself in the same hotel as Bruce, and as my friend entered the gym, he saw Springsteen right in front of him doing chest presses in his dungarees! He had the courage to go up to him and ask for a photo. Bruce replied, “I am the master of selfies,” and offered to take one. Others in the queue included Dutch fan Astrid, who said Ireland was a good place for a Springsteen show because “the security is so good,” which adds an element of safety to the whole experience. (As a seasoned Bruce-gig-goer, I can confirm that queues can get nasty and a bit adversarial, if neutral parties aren’t around keeping a bit of order.) Her husband Co added, “The hospitality is so great here [in Ireland,] so it makes us want to come back. It’s like a community in the queue, so it is not a strain at all.” Alissa, who had travelled from France, said, “Ireland has always been a great place to see Bruce; it’s his crowd. It’s different seeing him in an English-speaking country, because everyone knows the lyrics, compared to [a place like] Paris.” She also noted, “It’s very family-oriented compared to other countries. You see everyone from small kids going for the first time and older fans who have seen him a hundred times, and you hear their stories. It’s such a lovely time. You end up knowing people deeply if you queue, and even after a few days the connection is very strong, due to Bruce.” Sadly, before the show, thousands of fans had been left queuing fifteen minutes into the start of the show. As I had made my way in, I had seen the queues meandering out over the residential roads close to Croke Park, and they honestly made my eyes water. I wondered how they were going to get people in so quickly. Springsteen arrived surprisingly later than I expected. I know that because approximately forty minutes before showtime, fans in the general admission pit started screaming and a few outer layers of people ran to the side fence near the stage. It was Springsteen’s car arriving. Bruce walked onto the stage at 7.13pm with the cheeky, confident smile of one who knows he is loved and who loves them all back with just as much heart, and he enjoyed every minute of this welcome, with his telecaster dangling from his person. Then he launched into "Lonesome Day," followed by "Night," "No Surrender," "Two Hearts," "Ghosts," and "Darlington County." The tour debut of "Reason to Believe" caused excited yelps from the audience. The last time he played it was in 2016, and it’s a raw, blistering bluesy rendition that gives you goosebumps, as if you’re hearing the lyrics and the music for the first time. The other tour debut was "My Hometown," which was dedicated to “the Mayor of Freehold who is here tonight." "It’s a big night,” said Bruce in quite an excited tone. Never mind that Paul Rudd, Brad Pitt, or Bono also were in attendance; it was Freehold, NJ Mayor Kevin Kane whom Bruce chose to highlight. Rightly so, as there was a special announcement attached to this shoutout. Again, bringing the attention back to his special relationship with the country and in particular his family’s ancestral village of Rathangan in County Kildare. Bruce was announcing that it would be twinned with his hometown of Freehold, NJ, and the Mayor’s visit was part of a delegation to formalize the arrangement. The rest of the show was full of themes that have occupied him of late, including how to honour those who are no longer with us. He introduced "My City of Ruins," saying that when loved ones have passed away in life, we have to remember “It’s also what remains with us in our hearts and memories.” Halfway through the song he added, “If we’re here, they’re here with us tonight,” passing on his passion and conviction to us. He ended with a cover of The Pogues' "A Rainy Night in Soho" as a tribute to Shane MacGowan, who died last year. [Springsteen got to visit with the ailing MacGowan in Dublin while in town for the 2023 Springsteen/ESB concerts.] “For Shane. For Dublin. For Ireland. We love you,” said Bruce as he finished the simultaneously jaunty and poignant number. It was a heart-rousing show - as usual - and just shy of a full three hours, though some fans later told me they were disappointed that he didn’t veer off the setlist or stay for longer as he had in Kilkenny! But I was pleased. It never really matters if I am in the general admission pit or in a seat farther away from the stage; each song reaches me and touches me in the way it always has but also in a new way, in how it applies to my life now. Every show I see as he gets older, and as I get older, I always wonder, how does he do that? Because what he does is beyond time and age really. He’s a human defibrillator for the spirit, reminding us of how to live with the darkness of grief and the hope of a brighter future, and we all leave with our own version of that understanding. That is quite the service to give the world, and one it sorely needs right now. All photos by René van Diemen; used with permission. Connect with René on Facebook , Instagram , Twitter/X , and/or via email .

  • OFFICIALLY RELEASED TODAY: Zach Bryan's "Sandpaper," featuring Bruce Springsteen (Listen here.)

    July 4, 2024 Zach Bryan's latest album, The Great American Bar Scene , was released today. It features the studio version of "Sandpaper," recorded with Bruce Springsteen. "Sandpaper" is one of two songs that Springsteen performed with Bryan at Bryan's March 27 Barclays Center concert in New York . ("Sandpaper" also is one of two songs on Bryan's new album with a Springsteen connection. In addition to Springsteen's contribution to "Sandpaper," The Great American Bar Scene 's title track name-checks Springsteen's "State Trooper.") Below you can listen to Zach Bryan's newly released recording of "Sandpaper," featuring Bruce Springsteen:

  • Jake Clemons' Independence Day 2024 message

    July 4, 2024 Lyrics by Jake Clemons: Who among you is willing to stand To fight for your rights when there's tyranny at hand? Who among you has a voice to be heard, To sing out with the choir or wild like the birds? [chorus] We are The People, We are The People, We, The People... Who among you enjoys being free, No matter your religion, orientation, or creed? And who among you is the last to confess If one of us ain't free, then we're all oppressed? We'll stand united, or we won't stand for long, One people for liberty, one people with justice for all.

  • Happy 75th, Professor!

    July 2, 2024 Best wishes for a Happy 75th Birthday and many more Happy Birthdays ahead to Rock...Rock...Rockaway Beach's Piano-Pounder, the illegitimate child of Jerry Lee Lewis and Liberace, the Secretary of Intelligence, and the Dean of the University of Musical Perversity...Professor Roy Bittan, of course. Roy will be spending part of his special day onstage tonight with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in Belgium and, without a doubt, will deliver another masterful performance on the keys. As we celebrate Roy@75, it's important to remember just how integral a role he's played in so many of Bruce Springsteen's most enduring songs and recordings. Whether it's the complex virtuosity of his parts on songs like "Backstreets" and, say, any live version of "Ramrod," or his intelligent and totally appropriate uses of simplicity when called for, such as in "Born in the U.S.A." (with his repetitive Copland-esque "open fifths" tinged with a slight Asian motif,) and "My Hometown," Roy is among the greatest musicians in all of rock and roll. Many thanks from all of us fans, Professor, for all of those perfectly played notes. Keep 'em comin', please!

  • Our "BornInTheUSA@40 Roundtable" podcast drops today, on the big 4-0 of the BITUSA Tour's launch

    June 29, 2024 We're wrapping up this month of celebrating, revisiting, and rethinking Bruce Springsteen's all-time best-selling album, Born in the U.S.A. , which was released forty years ago this past June 4, with a special roundtable-discussion podcast, debuting on our SoundCloud and YouTube platforms today, June 29, on the fortieth anniversary of the launch of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour (and the completion of filming the music-video for the album's first single: "Dancing In The Dark.") Participating in this great discussion are: music-business veteran and radio personality Greg Drew, critic/author Steven Hyden (whose newly-published book is There Was Nothing You Could Do: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” and the End of the Heartland ,) and critic/author Joyce Millman , with our Editor/Publisher Shawn Poole serving as the discussion's moderating panelist. We dive deep into the album, the tour, and its enduring impact on Bruce Springsteen's artistry and career, as well as the larger world around it. If you're a fan of Springsteen and Born in the U.S.A. , you'll want to hear this. Click below to listen on our SoundCloud and/or YouTube platforms:

  • Soul Man Speaking: Lisa Iannucci's "lost" Sam Moore interviews

    June 27, 2024 In 2022, Bruce Springsteen described Sam Moore to Rolling Stone 's Andy Greene as follows: "He’s the greatest high harmony, high tenor I’ve ever heard in my life. When we sing on anything together, it’s just incredible. He’s probably the greatest living soul singer right now." Moore duets with Springsteen on two tracks that highlight Bruce's latest officially released studio album, Only The Strong Survive (Covers, Vol. 1 . ) The tracks are "Soul Days" and "I Forgot To Be Your Lover." Moore also is among the major figures interviewed in HBO/Max's excellent and essential new documentary series Stax: Soulsville, U.S.A. So this is a perfect time for us to share with our readers Lisa Iannucci's two "lost" interviews with Sam Moore. Iannucci interviewed Moore in 2006 and 2010, each time with the intent to publish a feature on Moore for the late, great Backstreets Magazine . For various reasons, the feature never happened, and no material from either interview ever got published. But now, we at Letters To You are happy and proud to present both interviews below, in their entirety. They are wide-ranging, informative, deadpan-funny at times (not surprisingly, if you know Sam Moore at all,) and offer a great overview of Sam Moore's life and career, with a special focus on Moore's pre- Only The Strong Survive encounters with Bruce Springsteen. Special thanks to both Lisa Iannucci and our friend Chris Phillips, Editor/Publisher of Backstreets , for helping this to happen. Take it away, Sam & Lisa! ---------- Lisa Iannucci - first "lost" interview with Sam Moore - 2006 Lisa Iannucci (LI :) Good morning; it’s such a pleasure to talk to you. I’m so excited... I’ve been a fan of yours for years, and I can’t believe I’m really talking to you. Sam Moore (SM:) Oh my goodness, you just got me gushing all over. Thank you. LI: Well, you know, it’s funny. I’ve known Dave Marsh for some time, and I know he’s good friends with you and your wife. SM: Oh yeah, Dave Marsh. What did he say this time? LI: Um, I don’t know. I don’t want to say in mixed company. SM: So that’s the way it is; okay. Well yes, he and Barbara [Carr, Dave Marsh's wife and Bruce Springsteen's former co-manager] are among our best friends. LI: How did you get to meet him? How long have you known him? SM: It’s been about thirty years that I’ve known Dave; I’ve known him that long. And he’s been a rock and a warm place. When I did the book [ For The Record (series) - Sam and Dave: An Oral History ] and everything, it was Dave Marsh who did it with me. We have a great admiration and mutual respect for one another, and Barbara is a wonderful lady and whatnot, so we have been pretty close. LI: I’ve known Dave because I’m a big Springsteen fan and I work for the magazine and all, and I wrote him a fan letter, and he’s always been very supportive of my career. SM: Right, he’s that way. If he can do anything to help others, whom he sees want it or will accept it, Dave is right there for you. You wouldn’t think he is, but he really is and he’s very bright, very smart, and he can be very tough, but he’s very fair. LI: Okay, so I have to ask you about Bruce because that’s what the magazine [that I write for] is all about. Yeah, there’s a magazine all about Bruce; isn’t that scary? SM: Oh, that’s cute. Bruce all the time, I like it; I love it. LI: I’ll make sure you get a copy when it comes out. So I want to talk to you about when it was that you first heard Bruce’s music. When did you first sort of realize who Bruce Springsteen was, and what was your reaction to that? SM: When Dave [Prater, Sam Moore's late partner in Sam & Dave] and I played The Stone Pony, I was a friend to his big sidekick, Clarence [Clemons,] and whenever we played Asbury Park and the Stone Pony, at the time I was told that [Bruce] would visit The Stone Pony and sometimes perform. But I didn’t actually meet him then. Many times I had actually seen him over at Clarence’s house. I’d seen him when he was doing rock’n’roll – this was before he became “The Boss,” and all this stuff. I [first interacted extensively and personally with Bruce in the early 1990s] when there was a call made—we [Moore and his wife Joyce McRae Moore] were still living in L.A. at the time—and there was a call that came in when he was doing Human Touch , and they asked me if I would come in to do some background. So I went in, and that was the first time I actually spoke one on one with him. Before that, usually he would come over to Clarence’s house and I’d just say "hi" and that was it. But I met him then, and I think his wife was having the first baby then, back in 1990, ’91. And we did one song, and I went back to my house in Arizona and I got another call, and later I got another call—another song and another song, and then I went back and got another call. Actually, there were four songs. [To date, only three of the Moore/Springsteen collaborations from the Human Touch sessions have been released officially: "Soul Driver," "Real World," and "Man's Job." ] We got close; we don’t socialize but it’s the time that we’re in one another’s company that we enjoy. At least I can speak for myself. I can’t speak for Bruce and I won’t do that. But it’s a joy, it’s a pleasure, and it’s an honor to be in this guy’s company. And to my wife and to everyone else, he’s so sweet. We get to laughing and giggling, and we’re goofy. I’ll give it to you short. One time he was in Asbury to do a performance, and I just wanted to see him—I didn’t go to see the show; I came to see him —and I walked into the dressing room and he was like “What key is ‘Hold On I’m Comin’' in, Sam?,” and I was like, “I didn’t come here to sing.” But we wound up at the end of the night doing “Soul Man,” and he wanted to do the steps of Sam & Dave, and I told him, "We didn’t have no steps; what are you talking about? There ain’t no steps, we just did something." And he laughed. But we do that, and the most wonderful time was when he did the Christmas show (in Asbury Park.) That was a lot of fun. And I admire this man so much because he has worked so hard to get to what he is today. And there are no pretensions with him. What you see is what you get. Mostly it’s about the music, writing good stuff, and performing [well] when he gets up onstage. You know what I love is that with Bruce, you don’t see all the smoke and the big stage, and all the lights getting into your eyes so you can hardly see the artist and whatnot; this guy walks up there and he’s the working man’s entertainer... You know you have been entertained with this guy. And I believed it then, and I still believe it now. LI: I really see that a lot of that came from you, that he watched you and learned from you over the years. I wanted to ask you—you said that on your record [2006's Overnight Sensational , Moore's duets album that featured a Moore/Springsteen collaboration on "Better To Have And Not Need," ] you really wanted to hear his soul voice, that you thought it was something that a lot of other people didn’t know about. I always thought he was a soul singer, too, but I think a lot of people haven’t thought of him that way. What is it in him that you heard that you thought that nobody else heard? SM: One time he was doing a show, and he jumped up on the piano, and he had the audience in such a state. It was an amazing thing; he took the audience over. 'Cause he was preaching, and through his preaching, if you’re listening, he was testifying. He was actually testifying. And I don’t think he even knew that he was doing that, and I said, “Oh my God, who is this guy? This guy sounds a little like C.L. Franklin [father of Aretha], that squall in his throat and all that stuff, this guy can really [do that.]" And I told Jon [Landau,] and Barbara [Carr,] and even Dave [Marsh.] We discussed it, because Dave has listened to gospel as much as I have, he’s on that stuff, and he said, “Why don’t you get him to do it?” And I said, “I don’t know. Well whenever I can get something where I can get him to do that, I’ll try." I can’t make him, you know. And with that song, I listened and listened, and I said, “Uh oh, I see something I think he can do. I can get squall, that C.L. Franklin squall.” And I’m proud to be the one to set it up, where he just went there. And the call and response, like in the church…I just set it up in a way that he would have to do that squall, and when he did it and they sent the file back to me, I screamed. I called Dave and I said, “Dave, doggone it, he did it!” Oh my god, can you believe how he sounds on that? LI: Yeah, it’s amazing to me. You know, I’ve always heard that in his voice. I grew up hearing gospel and R&B, and I never understood why people insisted on putting him in that corner... "You’re a rock’n’roller; you’re not a soul singer." And that’s part of his Jersey Shore roots, as well. SM: It is. I mean, some of the earlier songs that he has written, they’re very church orientated. Some of the songs he started writing before Born to Run , all that stuff really [shows the] gospel in him. When he does a song sometimes, I’ve heard him, he’ll do it with that Soul Stirrers high C, during that nine-chord interlude going out. And you’re going, “Wait a minute? Where’d he get that from?” When he does that stuff, you know, you want to talk about a soul singer…He ain’t gonna like it, but that’s all right; I can do that. You talk about a soul singer; he can really do it. His approach—the way he attacks ---you can say wow, this man is really soulful. He can really be, he can really be. LI: You mentioned that holiday show from a couple years ago. To me, that was just the most exciting thing. Seeing you walking out on that stage—it was such an emotional moment for me, and I’m sure for a lot of the audience. And I heard later on that you were sick, but those were some really great, passionate performances. What was that experience like for you? SM: I was sick. And I’ll tell you what, [Patti Scialfa] was such a gracious, wonderful lady that she called—and I had fever all day—and she called and she spoke with my wife and she said, “If you can get Sam up to get to a doctor, I have called a doctor.” Yeah, she really did this. And [my wife] Joyce said, “Well, he’s still full of fever and he’s still sick, but he’ll come.” And Joyce checked with me, and we got in the car, and [Patti] set it up, and we went to the pediatrician...Who goes to this pediatrician? Bruce’s children! LI: Well, you could never tell [how sick you were] from the performance. And I have to tell you that it was a high point in my life, seeing you onstage with him. SM: So yeah, we did all the Sam & Dave stuff, and that’s okay, that’s fine. But you know what, just being up there with him for “My City of Ruins”—he was standing there, and I was standing there, and it was just….whew. And ever since then, he and I, we have been trying to figure out a way that we could just sing songs we enjoy, you know... Sam & Dave songs that we like, and just be up there together and have a good time being together. He is much closer [to me] as a performer than my former partner [Dave Prater] was. I’m not lying to you; I’m not blowing smoke here. I feel closer to him than I felt with my former partner. When it comes to performance and all that stuff, I feel much closer. I am so comfortable when I perform with him and whatnot. Now, you may ask about the others [on the Overnight Sensational album]—I’ve never performed with anyone else that’s on the album, so that’s why I single him out. Other people—Vince Gill and Sting and Jon Bon Jovi, those are my backups—but Bruce, whew—we’ve done some pretty good performances onstage. LI: Speaking of performing, what you do is almost a forgotten art. Soul music and R&B—I grew up with it, and it seems to be disappearing. Why do you think that is? SM: I don’t know. Maybe it’s the writing, the material. I don’t know. This is 2006, and it’s been fading into the background for years. I’ve heard—it’s been said to me—that it’ll never sell [now.] Well, I think we’ve put a damper on that [idea] with this album. I mean, Sting, Jon Bon Jovi... we’re not singing any of their material. We’re singing [R&B]. Now, we didn’t go out to do that [live]. But these lazy record companies—get out there and promote it, and do something about it. [And I will also say that] I basically just don’t think some of these kids are qualified to do it. I mean, when the camera’s on, they’ll say “My inspiration was Aretha Franklin," "My inspiration was Whitney [Houston]," "My inspiration was Luther [Vandross]," or "My inspiration was Bruce." But wait a minute! Nobody’s doing [R&B]. I mean, the inspirations that they fall back on now would be like, “Oh, the greatest soul artist in the world would be Solomon Burke, Betty Lavette, Candi Staton.” Wait a minute—Candi’s been a minister for over thirty-some-odd years and now she comes out and does a pop act [ His Hands , 2006] and you say that that’s [R&B]... Come on. LI: I think people just aren’t exposed to it the way I was, the way you were. They don’t hear it on the radio, they don’t learn about it in school. It’s not treated like it is a part of our culture. SM: You’re right; it ain’t even on the radio. You don’t hear nobody learning from Jackie Wilson or Sam Cooke or [Little] Willie John or Otis Redding, but the rappers will sample these people, the James Browns, the Sam & Daves, and things like that, and they say “Oh, that was my inspiration.” That’s not singing, you dig what I’m saying? And I’m not putting down hip-hop or rap, ‘cause I listen all the time and I love—I’ll hear something and say, “Oh, that’s a lift from Otis or a lift from Sam & Dave or a lift from James Brown,” and I keep on going. But you understand what my point is—these R&B artists are being lifted. But you don’t hear nobody lifting from Bruce. ‘Cause Bruce doesn’t stay in one position all the time. He moves. And that stuff he puts out there. I mean, “Jacob’s Ladder,” all that stuff he’s doing right now, this is old. This is Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Pilgrim Travelers, The Soul Stirrers, you know, Mahalia Jackson. LI: You mention Otis Redding, and I have read several places that he was always in awe of you onstage. But who were some of your influences when you were first starting out? SM: Well starting out, naturally, it was gospel. So that was Soul Stirrers, The Pilgrim Travelers, The Nightingales, you know, things of that nature. Mahalia, Aretha’s father C.L., you know, that was when I started out. But when Dave [Prater] and I switched over [to soul], naturally it was Sam [Cooke], and Bobby Womack, and Jackie Wilson. And that’s the only reason I didn’t actually go with The Soul Stirrers. You know, they came out with Jimmy [Outler] and Johnnie [Taylor], but before that when they came to Miami, they were rehearsing to go back to Chicago, and I just went to see these guys... So those were my influences, and things of that nature. And I learned from some of the stars, the Sinatras, and I had a chance to do that. I was fortunate enough to be able to do those kinds of things. So I am blessed and lucky. LI: One last question, because I know you’re a busy man. Any plans to do any live shows with this record and/or any performances with Bruce? SM: Okay, I am glad you asked that, because I want to set the record straight. Yes, when it comes to the album, I am going to promote. With Bruce, that’s up to Bruce. If I’m someplace and Bruce calls and says, “Man I wanna go,” I’m up for it. But I am not - let me repeat - I am not going to infringe on that friendship, that relationship, by asking him to do that. I feel too close to him to do that, but if he calls and says he wants to do something, he would like to sing a song or even have me come on his show with his stuff, I’m all for it. But you will see me on stage with this record. I do have a band together. I’ll learn the songs and wait [until they’re ready.] That’s all I can do. ---------- Lisa Iannucci - second "lost" interview with Sam Moore - 2010 LI: So since I talked to you last, you did the Wilson Pickett tribute at the Grammys, played this year’s Grammys After-Party, and The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts at the Garden last fall. Since you put out the record in ‘06, people have been calling you up. How does that feel? SM: Well, this [Hall of Fame Concerts] call was also [Bruce’s] because he was in a position to invite someone that you’re comfortable, that you like singing with and whatnot. So I was fortunate enough that over the years…that the relationship that we had over the years - you wouldn’t believe because we really don’t socialize or [act] buddy-buddy and all that stuff - but it’s still gratifying and wonderful when someone in his position – we’ve known each other since the ‘70s – asks you to do things. I did the [2003 Holiday Show] one time in Asbury Park, and then this. So anytime he calls and requests, and says, “I want Sam..." It’s not that I have to climb, and neither does he. But we’re comfortable enough that we can have a good time doing what we do best. LI: Well the [Hall of Fame event] was exciting because young people are just starting to know who you are, and it was great to see you come out there and get that kind of reception. SM: Well it used to bug me a lot... It goes back to the “Soul Man” thing, when The Blues Brothers covered the “Soul Man” song, [which was] Sam & Dave’s. And I remember we were playing My Father’s Place there on [Long Island] in New York, and these kids came up to us after the show and said, “You know that song ‘Soul Man’? Well you cats do it better than them,” and Dave just went berserk. And I intervened and said, “Well look, they covered it, but originally it was Sam & Dave.” It was like that even when Dave and I were together. And then later [after Dave left], it was “Who’s going to do the other part?”. And that went on for oh, six or seven years. LI: But really, does that bother you? Because in all honesty, that is where a lot of people discovered you. SM: Well, honestly, that didn’t bother me as much as [it did] after Dave and I split in 1981, and then people would come up and say—you know, promoters did it—they would say, “You know, I like your [solo] show, I like what you’re doing, but it would make me feel more comfortable if you had a partner and we could put ‘Dave’ up on the marquee.” So yeah, after the split that did bother me for a long time. And then doing these things with Bruce and whatnot, and all of the people that I’ve sung with, a lot the time it was “Which one are you?”. And some of my friends tried to make it racial, and it wasn’t racial, it was just people didn’t know. And that’s still true today. People just don’t know. And what you have to do, [is] you have to work. It makes you work much harder to get that name as a single artist. You have to work much harder to get that name [out there]. And if that’s what you gotta do, that’s what you gotta do. And so that’s what I did. I did a lot of stuff—oldies shows—I sang with or opened for this person and that person and I’m gonna tell you, I had to sing my brains out. I really had to sell—not Sam & Dave so much. I had to sell Sam Moore as a single artist. And that was difficult. LI: Did you get a chance to see any of Bruce’s shows on this latest [ Working On A Dream ] tour? Because he seemed to be heading more in a soul music direction, especially with a lot of the covers he was doing. SM: You know, one of his key [band] members that was a friend of mine, Charlie [Giordano], told me about it and you know, he told me that [Bruce] did “Higher & Higher” at the end of the show, and it was almost like a 37-minute interlude before he would start singing the first words. And I had a taste of that at [the] Madison Square Garden [Hall of Fame show,] and I’m going “Whoa.” But you know, he’s been doing that for years. You know, even when we did the Christmas show [in 2003,] when we did “My City of Ruins.” But I even said to him, “Look, you made me come out here [at MSG...] okay, fine, but let’s do one of your songs.” Well, he doesn’t really like to do that. And he’s not trying to be Dave, he’s not trying to do that. And that’s why I enjoy performing with him more, because, you know, Bruce is Bruce. And I asked him to be on the album, and to sing a duet. And people said, “Well he’s not gonna do a soul song.” But I said, “He’ll do it.” And he said, “Send me the file.” And at the very end of the song—“Better to Have And Not Need”—he’s doing that like a gospel singer. And [producer] Randy [Jackson] said to me “Wanna hear what Bruce did?” and at the end he sounded like Aretha’s father [C.L. Franklin]. When he gets up on the piano and he preaches, he’s going on in these gospel tones—that’s Bruce, he likes to do that stuff. Look, it’s no surprise to me, but a lot of people are surprised by it. And again, it just goes to show that a lot of people just don’t know. And they’re gonna be like, “Why is he doing that?” LI: That goes back to what we were talking about before. Some people just have never heard soul music before. SM: You know what, I gotta tell you something. There’s this foundation that I have my name attached to [Sparks Charities] and I was asked to go to Miami and join Jordin Sparks [onstage]. And let me tell you, this kid—well okay, you know she did American Idol and opened for the Jonas Brothers—let me tell you something. This kid—she is as good as any of these hip-hop or pop singers. This kid is really good. And I sang with her. And I was worried about getting up there, being my age with this real young girl. But she asked if we could do “Blame it on the Rain” and I said “I’ll do it with you, but you do all the verses and I’ll ad lib around you.” And I’m telling you, when we did it it was like, we rocked it. And her grandfather came up to me after everything and said, “You know, I really would like for her to do some covers; what do you think?” And I said, she’s as good as…Alicia Keys. I said, “It all comes down to this, sir. It’s about the material.” It’s not like it used to be [in the sixties,] and it’ll never be like that again [with r&b and soul music.] The product is there, but you’ve got ProTools and you really don’t have to be that great of a singer, you don’t have to be that great of a talent. Because if you look at... You get up on that stage and you’re doing a lot of things that have nothing to do with the song, if you catch my drift. I was sitting in the audience looking at Beyonce and... In my day, if a woman did that what she’s doing, we couldn’t even get out of the place. But this is the way things are done—it’s geared to that kind of thing. But you know back in my time, a lot of things that we did onstage were not “acceptable.” So you gotta balance it out and say, okay, you may not like what they’re doing, but we were not all that “clean” with what we were doing up on the stage. Even me, I was like, ooh you know, that’s kind of nasty. But you know, that’s the way it is today. And I say, she needs good material, that’s all. ‘Cause this kid, she’s amazing. And I look forward to one day having her on my show and maybe we can do something, and people can really see. And that’s what I’m basically talking about: me staying in with my friends, and I’m enjoying myself. LI: It must be gratifying to still go out onstage and get the response that you get. SM: Yeah, it is. And it’s so gratifying to hear young kids that can perform. And they call and want to be on the show with me. I got a call from Joss Stone the other day, and she told me that she’s been looking for something that she and I can do, and I was going “What?” But yeah, you know, I guess it means that somebody still likes what you’re doing.

  • From The Shive Archive: a picture of Stevie Van Zandt that you can pray to every night... featured in the new HBO documentary Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple June 24, 2024 "Got a picture of Brian Wilson that I pray to every night," sings Little Steven in "Love Again," which mixmaster extraordinaire Bob Clearmountain calls "one of my favorite songs of Steve's" in the excellent new documentary Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple. And here (above,) courtesy of our friend and photographer extraordinaire Jim Shive, is a picture of Stevie that's definitely a worthy talisman for invoking the power of prayer, too. Jim caught Little Steven in action at what was then known as The Garden State Arts Center (a.k.a. the "opera out on the turnpike" in "Jungleland,") and is now known as PNC Bank Arts Center, on June 19, 1984. Jim's beautiful photo also appears in Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple, and in celebration of the documentary's arrival on HBO/Max, he's now offering special limited-edition giclee prints of it in three different sizes. Click here for all of the details.

  • "Silvio"'s long-awaited return to HBO - Filmmaker Bill Teck talks STEVIE VAN ZANDT: DISCIPLE with us

    June 22, 2024 Tonight at 8pm ET, "Silvio" finally returns to HBO, along with "Miami," "Sugar," "The Kid," the "RockNRoll Rebel," and of course "Little Steven." At that time, the epic-length documentary Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple will get its broadcast/streaming premiere on HBO/Max. We got to screen the film last week, and trust us... If you're a Van Zandt fan (and who reading this isn't?,) you will want to see Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple as soon as possible. (Click here for information on getting access to the Max streaming service, if you don't have it already. You also can see the film with access to HBO, if HBO subscriptions are available through your television provider. Contact your specific provider for more information and pricing details, if needed.) The film tells the multi-faceted story of Stevie's life and career from childhood through present day. And even if you're a fan who's familiar with that story, there is so much to see here that few to no fans have ever seen before: archival family images and recordings, film/video footage never or rarely shared publicly (with a bit of it courtesy of Thom Zimny, not surprisingly, as you can hear below,) beautifully restored vintage footage, and newly filmed interviews with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, "Southside Johnny" Lyon, Gary "U.S." Bonds, Darlene Love, Jackson Browne, David Chase, Vincent Pastore, Maureen Van Zandt, Eddie Vedder, Bill Wyman, Peter Wolf, Bono, Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna, Jon Landau, Jimmy Iovine, Peter Gabriel, Ruben Blades, Arthur Baker, Bob Clearmountain, Ted Sarandos, longtime Van Zandt collaborator Zoe Thrall, Rich Russo, Palmyra Delran, Eddie Brigati, Chris Columbus, Michael Des Barres, Jesse Malin, Melle Mel, Scott Kempner, Richie Sambora, and - of course - Stevie Van Zandt himself. After screening the film last week, Letters To You editor/publisher Shawn Poole also got to chat with Disciple director/producer Bill Teck (One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich & the Lost American Film) about his almost-two-decades-long effort to make the Van Zandt documentary happen. Like his documentary's subject, Bill Teck is also a "true believer," to use Bruce Springsteen's words: a longtime Stevie fan whose persistence and professionalism eventually paid off in getting Van Zandt's approval for the film to be made. In the conversation, Teck shared many interesting behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the making of Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple. You can click below to hear the entire conversation on either our SoundCloud or YouTube platforms: Shortly after we recorded that conversation, Bill Teck also sent us an interesting message with some additional behind-the-scenes information about three potenttial interviewees who unfortunately didn't make it into the film: "[Among the] folks I wanted most were Bob Dylan [with whom Stevie and Roy Bittan recorded a great alternate take of "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky,"] Pete Townshend [who was a member of Artists United Against Apartheid,] and [longtime SVZ friend/collaborator] Steve Jordan. We couldn’t get Pete's and Steve’s schedules to work, but not for lack of trying. Steve and I went back and forth a lot, and he really wanted to do it, but we ran outta time. My understanding was that Bob Dylan hadn’t sat for an interview for anyone in a long time, and I thought it might be tricky to get him, but I just didn’t dare try. I’m so in awe of him. I guess I couldn’t believe I’d have all these amazing cats in one movie. But then... when I read [what Dylan wrote for the book-cover of Unrequited Infatuations,] I was like… I shoulda tried! And then at Bob’s most recent New York show he praised Stevie from the stage; said beautiful things about him and the Disciples of Soul. And I was like, 'I’m an idiot - I shoulda tried harder.'" But while Bill Teck may be regretting a few missed opportunities, as all great documentary filmmakers occasionally do, ultimately what's most important - and great - is not anything that's missing from Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple, but everything that is in it. Teck has done a stellar job of assembling an astounding amount of treasures into a fresh, complete, and inspiring tale of one of E Street's - and rock-and-roll's - greatest heroes. Again, we can't recommend it highly enough; check it out as soon as you can.

  • Happy Birthday, Nils! (...featuring a special message from the "birthday boy" himself!)

    June 21, 2024 From his first E Street Band gigs with the launch of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour (and the filming of the "Dancing in the Dark" music-video) forty years ago this month to the current tour - with many more stellar concerts, recordings, and other projects in between, of course - the "new guy on the guitar" never loses heart and keeps rockin' all night. Best wishes for a happy birthday and many, many more to the Godfather of the Guitar, the Minister of Heart and Spirit: the great, great Nils Lofgren! With both his 73rd birthday and the 40th anniversary of his joining the E Street Band occurring this month, we recently asked Nils if he'd like to share any special thoughts with our readers. Here's a special message from the "birthday boy" himself, written in the wee hours of this morning, as he relaxed and reflected in Barcelona, Spain, after performing the first of two scheduled 2024 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band concerts there: I can’t really describe adequately how grateful I am to celebrate 40 years in the amazing E Street Band, with Bruce as our leader. I’ve never seen anyone work harder at sharing such formidable music gifts as Bruce, and it remains a great honor to be on the road currently, with these dear friends and great musicians, after 55 years on the road. Turning 73 today, I just played a three-hour concert in Barcelona with Bruce and E Street. I got a gift for music I didn’t ask for, and I’m eternally grateful. Only thing missing is my wonderful wife, Amy, our son Dylan, and our beautiful dogs. Glad they’re all safe at home, as I work my way back to them. So bless all you wonderful listeners who keep coming to hear me play music at my own shows, with E Street, Crazy Horse, and all the great bands I’ve been blessed to work with. See you all soon, I hope. Love and Thanks, All… Nils Much love and thanks rightbackatcha, Nils! Happy birthday and many, many more to you, good sir. Long may you run! Official 2024 tour photography by Rob DeMartin; used with permission

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