Category Archives: Music
Rocking the Wall: Bruce Springsteen: The Berlin Concert that Changed the World by Eric Kirschbaum is a look back a at 1988 and the improbable concert that took place in East Germany. For those of us who are old enugh to remember a place called East Germany, it will take you back. Kirschbaum got the idea for the book in a taxi cab coming back from the 2002 Springsteen concert in Berlin. The cabby told him about the most incredible concert in Berlin that shook up the entire country.
Growing up in Cleveland, Bruce Springsteen was the patron saint of the city, so said WMMS. Every Friday at 5:00pm Born to Run would play as part of the weekend kick off. Long before Born in the USA, Springsteen sang of the blue collar life and trying to get ahead that really struck home. Well into adulthood and back at a blue collar job, Springsteen never left my music library. I remember him ranting against Reagan who wanted to use Born in the USA as a campaign song because it sounded patriotic, rather than a story of a veteran abandoned by his country.
In 1987, West German concerts at the Reichstag caused concern in East Germany as the building stood near the wall. Crowds of East Germans gathered at the wall to listen to the concerts which lead to confrontations with the East German Police. After attempts to negotiate with West Berlin to prevent the overflow of concert music from the isolated city of West Berlin failed, East Germany decided to hold their own concerts to appease the young and prevent violence.
The Free German Youth came up with a plan to get Springsteen to play East Berlin. Springsteen, not a Reagan supporter, seemed like a good choice. A liberal singer who wrote about the failure of the American dream would be the perfect person to appease the youth without harming the government’s authority. It was said that he also donated a printing press to Nicaragua. That printing press was used to sell the concert to the East German hierarchy and the Nicaragua connection almost ruined the concert the day before it started.
American music had a political voice and in my generation it was Bruce Springsteen and to some extent Patti Smith. takes you behind the scenes to the largest concert ever in East Germany. It is intriguing look back into the final days of the Cold War and the down fall of an entire political system. The system was cracking by the late 1980s, Glasnost, perestroika, and the general feeling of discontent by the youth of Eastern Europe became an unstoppable wave. Many people claim the have a role in bring down The Wall from Al Gore to David Hasselhoff, but only one was in East Germany in front of 300,000 people with a message of Rock and Roll and a message to take down the barriers separating people. A worthwhile read and look at a time that seems so far away.
Long, long ago in a place called Cleveland I used to listen to a radio station called WMMS. Mixed in with all the great (now Classic Rock), music was a new singer. WMMS was famous for supporting not only local bands but also new bands. Rush made its US debut at WMMS, Bruce Springsteen became the cities patron saint (although he’s from New Jersey). I first heard Patti Smith and moved away from AM radio music. Yes, AM radio used to be popular and it was a big deal for me to actually have a radio that was an FM receiver…but then too I had 8-tracks. Anyway intermixed in the hard rock was a new singer with with an amazing voice and music that didn’t seem to fit the rock scene. I fell in love with the voice and rushed out to Peaches to pick up the Album. It was Karla Bonoff’s self titled album.
Thirty-five years later, almost by accident, I finally got to see Karla Bonoff in concert. The concert would have slipped right by me if a friend and fellow bike mechanic in Austin didn’t notice it. Thanks Steffi. : )
The Kessler in Dallas is a small venue and it was really nice to sit that close to the stage. I don’t think there is a bad seat there. I took off work early biked to the train station and took the train to South Dallas. It is just a mile and a half from the the Tyler/Vernon Station and there is a bike rack right in front.
Karla Bonoff came on with Nina Gerber backing her on guitar. From the opening “Driving at night, the headlights were bright…” to the end it was an amazing show. I told a friend: It was awesome in that grown up remember the past adult kind of way rather than the awesome punk rock Patti Smith life I lead. I stuck out a bit in the crowd of business casual dressed concert goers, in my combat boots, black Dickies shorts, and black bike shop work shirt. So I was not sipping Chardonnay with my fellow audience members. There was a strict no pictures, no phones rule at the show and it was very dark so I could not write down the playlist. Needless to say in ninety minutes Karla played everything I could think of, except for Flying High. Her voice is still perfect as I remember it…completely amazing show.
Yeah, they said no pictures, but you know, I still lead that Patti Smith, punk rock, kinda life.
She has a better vest than I ever had.
Stuubs, the barbecue sauce guy, has a restaurant in Austin with a “amphitheater” in the back and that’s where Patti Smith played this Tuesday night. I got there early enough so that I could get in close but, by the end of the night, there was a perfect storm 6’6″ guys standing directly in front of me.
I was expecting a to hear most of Banga that night since the tour was to support that album. I was pleasantly surprised at the play list:
My Blaken Year
This is the Girl
Shake out the Ghost
Beneath the Southern Cross
Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan did a meddle that included The Night Time is the Right Time and Cry Baby Cry
Patti came back for
Because the Night
Pissing in the River
and the encores were
People Have the Power
Patti was energetic and interacted with the crowd. I was happy to hear a few of my very favorites Blaken Years, Shake Out the Ghost, and Redondo Beach. She became complete absorbed in Pissing in the River and I could have sworn she turned twenty years younger following up with Gloria. People Have the Power was the perfect closing song as the Stubbs is in the shadows of the Texas State Capitol. All and all a very amazing night.