“Dear God Just Release The Box Already”
The above quote is from one of the forums on Backstreets.com, the premier Bruce Springsteen fan site and it very well sums up the plight of us die-hard Bruce devotees, which is that once you're in you'd better be ready to endure exasperation the like of which you previously couldn't have imagined. You don't like The Boss? I understand, but bear with me, there's a point to all of this.
Here's the deal – two years or so ago rumours began to circulate of a box set containing multiple CDs and DVDs specifically dealing with "The River" album. Now everybody knows the song of course but might not be aware that the album itself is superlative, one of his best.
So anyway, back on the forum it has emerged from "reliable sources" that a full concert DVD of a show from the equally epic River tour will be the centrepiece of the set. As I write this the saga on Backstreets is up to 230 (and counting) pages full of feverish speculation about whether the show mentioned was filmed in full, videotape or your proper 35mm. This particular detail is quite important as we've been here before. Houston '78, videotape, dreadful. What else might be in the box? Too much of this? Not enough of that? And then there's the interminable delay in confirming that the thing actually exists at all, never mind any suggestion of a release date. Heads are wrecked with all this carry on I needn't tell you, but on a serious note it's instructive to follow every twist and turn, being as it is, a case study of extreme fandom. It makes it easy to understand too why stars of stratospheric magnitude feel the need to employ a couple of ex-special forces minders to accompany them when they feel inclined to nip down the pub for a quick one or stop off for a burger on the way home.
When this was first flagged as a likely Christmas pressie from Springsteen Inc. my initial reaction was "Yes! Concert DVD, that'll do for me!" But wait, do we still have a DVD player in our house? A quick look under the telly, there's the Sky box, oh and another one, could be UPC. Hang on a second. Do we have UPC? If we do then why do we have Sky as well? So many questions…. It turned out that the "UPC" was indeed a DVD player so all's well, though this episode did remind me of an article I read a couple of years ago which argued very convincingly that your capacity to understand technology recedes as you get older. I've been up and down the internet many times since trying to find said article but to no avail. Whatever, I'm inclined to buy into this theory and I'd quote my dad as living proof that the theory is fact.
In his younger years he was a self taught and reliable fixer of things – washing machines, cookers and just about any other electrical household appliance you can think of. So good was he with this type of thing that he even rewired our house from top to bottom back in the 1970s and to date it's still standing, hasn't burned down. However as old age crept up on him he'd just about have mastered the remote control for the TV when I'd have notions and rush out to buy a new telly. Bigger, better, look at those colours dad, they're so much more …..colourful. Yes, quite. A new telly then, and a new remote to get the hang of.
We'd start at square one with me going into full on instructor mode, stopping just short of donning safety glasses, hard hat, hi-viz vest and clipboard under my arm. How he stayed patient I'll never know. "Press this one for RTE 1, no, no, the other one. That's it" says I to him. Many months of befuddlement would follow where he'd click on every conceivable thing other than Anne Doyle reading the news, waiting for one of us to bail him out.
The wheel's gone full circle now though and from once being relatively on top of such life skills as setting the video to record Neighbours ten months in advance I live in a world where, while my friends are discussing WIFI, Bluetooth and the like, I view my phone with suspicion. A smartphone that's well smarter than me and no doubt knows it too. Who's laughing now, then? I could regale you with many more stories of my technophobia but hey, you've surely got the idea by now, yes?
As you read this the box set Holy Grail (which is where we came in) will no doubt have been revealed to us in all its glory or otherwise and the forum will be alight, clocking up the pages of posts lurching violently from ecstatic in Essex to outraged in Ohio, to wit if Bruce really cared for us how could he possibly exclude this or that, and only one CD of outtakes? Really?? When the whole world and his mother knows the recording sessions spawned enough songs for at least two, yadda yadda yadda and on it shall go deep into 2016.
Right, all this writing's making me thirsty. Time for coffee. Proper ground stuff for me, none of that instant nonsense. That button on the machine, that's the one I press isn't it? I'm never really sure….
More meanderings next month, TTYL!!