Monday, April 20, 2009

Farewell Boss: It's the end of Bruce Springsteen as we know him

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 2:17 PM

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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. $69-$99. 7:30 p.m. Sun., April 26. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive. 404-878-3000. www.philipsarena.com.

What do the biggest solo icons in music history have in common?

Elvis, Prince, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen all have a guaranteed place in the pop pantheon. They've also had penchants for odd behavior. Religious conversions, zoological fascinations, bizarre health regiments and sexual perversions color their biographies.

All of them, that is, except the Boss.

About the most bizarre thing you can accuse Springsteen of doing is sticking his crotch into the camera at the Super Bowl XLIII halftime show. And, let's be honest, most of us liked that. Sure, a New Jersey man recently claimed that his soon-to-be ex-wife had an affair with Springsteen, but even if it’s true the allegation would only serve as further proof that Bruce is, at heart, one of those regular guys that he sings about.

The well-grounded, nonindicted, commercially viable Springsteen is clearly sane and maddeningly well-adjusted. And the older he gets, the more down to earth he seems to become. Plastic surgery? Negative. Weird pets? Not really; he likes horses. Strange causes? Not so much. He's become active in politics over the last two presidential elections, and shows no signs of letting up on the liberal fundraisers, benefit concerts and cocktail parties. Snooze.

At this point, Springsteen has less in common with the aforementioned pop icons and more in common with boring rock stars like Tom Petty. In fact, Petty is exactly the kind of guy Springsteen threatens to turn into, someone whose back catalog is still respected but who threatens to become a subject of one of those "Dead or Alive?" trivia games before much longer. (Go ahead and add John Mellencamp and Bob Seger to that list as well.)

While Springsteen's normalness may be depressing to a country that prefers celebrity nut jobs, what's even worse is how his late-career sanity seems to have negatively impacted his musical output.

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