27 July 2012
From David Remnick’s Profile of Bruce Springsteen, two excerpts that are largely quotes from the subject:
Doug Springsteen died in 1998, at seventy-three, after years of illness, including a stroke and heart disease. “I was lucky that modern medicine gave him another ten years of life,” Springsteen said. “T-Bone Burnett said that rock and roll is all about ‘Daaaaddy!’ It’s one embarrassing scream of ‘Daaaaddy!’ It’s just fathers and sons, and you’re out there proving something to somebody in the most intense way possible. It’s, like, ‘Hey, I was worth a little more attention than I got! You blew that one, big guy!’ ”
As Springsteen sees it, the creative talent has always been nurtured by the darker currents of his psyche, and wealth is no guarantee of bliss. “I’m thirty years in analysis!” he said. “Look, you cannot underestimate the fine power of self-loathing in all of this. You think, I don’t like anything I’m seeing, I don’t like anything I’m doing, but I need to change myself, I need to transform myself. I do not know a single artist who does not run on that fuel. If you are extremely pleased with yourself, nobody would be fucking doing it! Brando would not have acted. Dylan wouldn’t have written ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ James Brown wouldn’t have gone ‘Unh!’ He wouldn’t have searched that one-beat down that was so hard. That’s a motivation, that element of ‘I need to remake myself, my town, my audience’—the desire for renewal.”
Elizabeth Taylor’s story, “An Oasis of Gaiety,” adumbrates a character, and even a relationship, from her later novel, The Sleeping Beauty, but the gathering of ageing bright young things playing roulette on the floor of an Edwardian, course-side villa is not a foreshadowing. “Auntie,” the hostess, has neither niece nor nephew, but her flighty daughter, Dosie, and her stolid, much younger son, Thomas (unaccountably devoted to his life in the Army — and this is what Taylor picks up for the novel), are both on hand.
In some of the less remote parts of Surrey, where the nineteen-twenties are perpetuated, such pockets of stale and elderly gaiety remain. They are blank as the surrounding landscape of fir trees and tarnished water.
But who was loved — in this room, for instance? Mrs Wilson often thought that her husband would not have dared to die if he had known she would drift into such company. “What you need, darling, is a nice, cosy woman friend,” Fergy had said years ago when she had reacted in bewilderment to his automatic embrace. He had relinquished her at once, in a weary, bored way, and ignored her coldly ever since. His heartless perception frightened her. Despite her acceptance of — even clinging to — their kind of life, and her acquiescence in every madness, every racket, she had not disguised from him that what she wanted was her dull, good husband back, and a nice evening with the wireless; perhaps, too, a middle-aged woman friend to go shopping with, to talk about slimming and recipes. Auntie never discussed those things. She was the kind of women men liked. She amused them with her scatter-brained chatter and innuendo and the fantasy she wove, the stories she told, about herself. When she was with women, she rested. Mrs Wilson could not imagine her feeling unsafe, or panicking when the house emptied. She seemed self-reliant and efficient. She and Dosie sometimes quarrelled, or appeared to be quarrelling, with lots of “But, darling!” and “Must you be such a fool, sweetie?” Yet only Thomas, the symbol of the post-war world, was really an affront. Him she could not assimilate. He was the grit that nothing turned into a pearl — neither gaiety nor champagne. He remained blank, impervious. He took his life quite seriously, made no jokes about the Army, was silent when his mother said, “Oh, why go? Catch the last train or wait until morning. In fact, why don’t you desert? Dosie and I could hide you in the attic. It would be the greatest fun. Or be ill. Get some awful soldier’s disease.”
From Francis Bacon, “Of Innovations”:
Surely every medicine is an innovation; and he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator….