by Alex Gilman, Music Department Manager at Bookmans Flagstaff

I grew up knowing musical artists before I knew their work. Because of that, I had certain ideas about their work before I ever listened to their music. Bruce Springsteen is one example, but in many ways, the perfect one. My introduction to The Boss was a cultural one. Hearing his name on TV or the radio and seeing the context in which he was portrayed, built this image of the rock ‘n’ roll legend people believe him to be. I knew Born in the USA and I could maybe pick out the odd song on the radio, but I had never gone through a full album. I never looked for it. Bruce is a cultural icon for rock, noted and filed. No more thought needed or given. Then one day, I listened. I popped a greatest hits CD into my computer that day. As the music played, my disappointment grew. The Boss didn’t meet my expectations for what he was supposed to sound like. The sound was too clean, too soft to be the guy who represents the hard working American. The mental images evoked when thinking of Springsteen’s music are of oil smeared mechanics and coal dusted miners working hard for their piece of the American Dream. The mental image evoked when I actually listen to his music clashes with the legend.

Bruce Springsteen>

I realize it sounds an awful lot like I’m bashing Springsteen, but I assure you that’s not the case. It’s a difference in taste. What he represents to an entire generation of music and music lovers cannot and should not be diminished by one blogger’s personal opinion. His influence is not lost on the world, specifically via another band, The Gaslight Anthem. Great Expectations off the The ’59 Sound was my introduction to this band out of Jersey. The more I consumed, the more this band filled in the blanks on what rock music should be. These guys conjure images of long American summers, white T-shirts and blue jeans, young love and heart break. Here, finally, I found the sound that matched the image, the music that met the expectations I built for a rock icon I never much cared for in the first place. Like most of the music I love, The Gaslight Anthem holds a certain significance. I’m self-conscious when it comes to my iPod, but I can always feel cool when I put these guys on. They epitomize what I want from rock — a little bluesy, a little country, a solid beat and meaningful lyrics.

Maybe it’s a matter of taste. Maybe it’s a good example of not setting one’s expectations too high before the experience. Whatever it is, The Gaslight Anthem sounds like what I want Bruce Springsteen to sound like. I’m okay with that. If you’re interested, 2008’s The ’59 Sound is a great place to start.

* Bookmans is the place to browse music, but if you are looking for a specific title mentioned in this post, feel free to give us a call to make sure we have it on our shelves.