On Bruce Springsteen

In light of E Street band member Danny Federici’s recent death, it is only prudent to highlight the ever-fading relevance of Bruce Springsteen.

For many Americans like me, The Boss brings to mind a rush of vignettes: hot dogs on the barbecue, the Jersey shore, a mug of lukewarm beer, faded cutoff jean shorts, a pack of cigarettes rolled up in your T-shirt sleeve, driving a car with the windows down, an American flag bandana.

But for many others even more cynical than I, the mere mention of Springsteen and his music elicits sarcastic eye rolls. In writing here in the past, I’ve discussed my hesitant love for ABBA, which since then has developed into a full-blown passion without any sarcasm. As I age, I feel the same genuine emotion growing for many other things I should be embarrassed of in order to save my hipster cred.

Being honestly into Springsteen is unfashionable. Even his bond with indie darlings the Arcade Fire could not remedy the instantaneous repulsion that so many children of the ’80s have. Though I’ve heard it countless times since a young age, I have only recently decided “Born to Run” is one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded.

Although “Born to Run” sounds like a bar anthem at first listen, its lyrics become more potent after a few more listens over a pint. The entire song’s lyrics are amazing, but the last two minutes are the most powerful, following a raging horn, when Bruce’s voice strains, serious and genuine: “Beyond the Palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard/The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors/And the boys try to look so hard/The amusement park rises bold and stark/Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist/I wanna die with you, Wendy, on the streets tonight/In an everlasting kiss.”

Everyone around him is still enjoying youth, working on impressing one another for a fleeting sexual encounter. Bruce, though — Bruce wants more, and sees the power Wendy holds, melting away police sirens with her embrace. Bruce continues after another brassy blast, clanking piano, exploding symphony: “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive/Everybody’s out on the run tonight/But there’s no place left to hide/Together, Wendy, we’ll live with the sadness/I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul/Someday, girl, I don’t know when/We’re gonna get to that place/Where we really want to go/And we’ll walk in the sun/But till then tramps like us/Baby, we were born to run.”

Maybe becoming an adult is really the reason why Bruce speaks to me. After I leave here, I don’t want to strap on my sensible heels and march into my cubicle. I want to grab a lover and run to a place that may only exist in my imagination.


On Finding New Music

I’m too tired today to tackle any large, complex issues in the world of music. It’s spring outside, and suddenly there are 20 times more people that go to Carnegie Mellon than there were a month ago. All of these people are sitting across the Cut with their newly rediscovered arms and legs exposed, listening to whomever’s stereo won the volume competition by the Fence. What I am noticing, however, is that the music coming out of these stereos is largely the same music that was played last spring, and the spring before that. In fact, a lot of it is the same music that students were listening to in high school, because that’s what was on commercial radio and behind the advertisements on television for things like Mountain Dew and Doritos.

Frankly, it’s pathetic. You’re building robots and telling jokes about the fourth dimension while listening to Dave Matthews Band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Oasis. Regardless of the merit of these bands individually (which is, itself, debatable), there is absolutely no reason, and no excuse, for them to be on repeat.

Discovering new music has become almost distressingly easy these days. The Internet, that little thing most students are hooked up to 24/7, has a wealth of resources. There’s a handful of popular websites that connect you to artists similar to those you know and like, such as last.fm and Pandora (even if they get it wrong sometimes). There are also music blogs that offer plenty of free MP3 downloads, and user-driven sites like (see article to the left) that put a personal touch on discovering new sound on the Internet.

Of course, the Internet is not the only place to discover new music. Right on campus, in the basement of the UC, is WRCT, a free-form radio station with programming that ranges from blues to hip-hop, to avant-garde neo-Dadaist musical hodgepodge. While you’re not guaranteed to like everything that’s playing every minute of the day on WRCT, chances are you be able to find at least one program to tune into for a little bit every week and hear what’s new in the music world. In addition to WRCT, the Activities Board brings plenty of great acts right to campus to check out each month — it doesn’t get much easier than that.

So while I am too tired to tackle any complex musical issue, I do feel responsible for trying to help fix this one. We talk about music as being the universal language, yet so many people fail to expand their vocabulary. I’m tired of feeling like I’m in one of those bad ’90s college movies when I’m on my way to class. Step up, Carnegie Mellon. Listen to better music.

-M. Callen


On finding new music

I’m too tired today to tackle any large, complex issues in the world of music. It’s spring outside, and suddenly there are 20 times more people that go to Carnegie Mellon than there were a month ago. All of these people are sitting across the Cut with their newly rediscovered arms and legs exposed, listening to whomever’s stereo won the volume competition by the Fence. What I am noticing, however, is that the music coming out of these stereos is largely the same music that was played last spring, and the spring before that. In fact, a lot of it is the same music that students were listening to in high school, because that’s what was on commercial radio and behind the advertisements on television for things like Mountain Dew and Doritos.

Frankly, it’s pathetic. You’re building robots and telling jokes about the fourth dimension while listening to Dave Matthews Band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Oasis. Regardless of the merit of these bands individually (which is, itself, debatable), there is absolutely no reason, and no excuse, for them to be on repeat.

Discovering new music has become almost distressingly easy these days. The Internet, that little thing most students are hooked up to 24/7, has a wealth of resources. There’s a handful of popular websites that connect you to artists similar to those you know and like, such as last.fm and Pandora (even if they get it wrong sometimes). There are also music blogs that offer plenty of free MP3 downloads, and user-driven sites like muxtape.com (see article to the left) that put a personal touch on discovering new sound on the Internet.

Of course, the Internet is not the only place to discover new music. Right on campus, in the basement of the UC, is WRCT, a free-form radio station with programming that ranges from blues to hip-hop, to avant-garde neo-Dadaist musical hodgepodge. While you’re not guaranteed to like everything that’s playing every minute of the day on WRCT, chances are you be able to find at least one program to tune into for a little bit every week and hear what’s new in the music world. In addition to WRCT, the Activities Board brings plenty of great acts right to campus to check out each month — it doesn’t get much easier than that.

So while I am too tired to tackle any complex musical issue, I do feel responsible for trying to help fix this one. We talk about music as being the universal language, yet so many people fail to expand their vocabulary. I’m tired of feeling like I’m in one of those bad ’90s college movies when I’m on my way to class. Step up, Carnegie Mellon. Listen to better music.


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