Reader Letters

‘We Need You!’

Dear TMN,

Kevin Guilfoile’s further exposure of a story about Bruce Springsteen [article was originally published in 2002-eds.] was certainly intriguing; “everyone knows that a man, shouting at Springsteen, partly inspired the new songs.” Everyone maybe, but not me.

Previously I had believed that the inspiration for Springsteen’s most recent music was the folk singer and activist Pete Seeger. I had understood that the songs—far from being new—are in fact very old.

Keep up the good work!

Gavin Harris,

Kevin Guilfoile responds:

Dear Gavin,

As you correctly point out, Bruce Springsteen’s latest album,
We Shall Overcome—The Seeger Sessions, consists of 13 traditional songs made popular by the ancient and elfin folk singer Pete Seeger. However, the article of mine you refer to, “I Know You’re Lonely For Words That I Ain’t Spoken,” was published on August 5, 2002 and the Springsteen album discussed is called The Rising, although I didn’t call it by name for some probably pretentious stylistic reason.

I see from your signature that you’re over in London, but an American who was reading very carefully might have discovered some clues that this article was of an older vintage. For instance I mentioned the presence of Katie Couric on the
Today Show and she has since moved on to prepare for her new gig as anchor of the CBS Evening News. Also I referred to the “Hilton sisters,” which nobody does anymore. Paris’s holistic approach to skankiness (combined with her surprisingly catchy pop sensibility) has so overshadowed even her family’s hospitality empire that the fate of her younger sister Nikki reminds many celebrity watchers of the time Orville Wright’s brother Wilbur died from Typhoid fever in 1908.

Another reason one might deduce this article had been written prior to 2004 is that it contains no references to Laurie Berkner, Thomas the Train Engine, poop, swimming lessons, Dan Zanes, playground slides, bananas, Pottery Barn Kids, Aquaphor, yogurt, The Wiggles, Scrambled States of America, grapes, Sesame Street, car seat legislation, funny mispronunciations, applesauce, Teletubbies, Hanna Andersson, apple juice, pacifiers, or rotavirus. You see, any person with a two-year-old couldn’t possibly produce 1,200 words, written or spoken, without mentioning at least three of these things.

For instance if I were writing an article about Bruce Springsteen today, it likely would be about how every night my son sits on the floor in his Hanna Andersson pajamas, eating a bowl of grapes, while I play a recording of Springsteen and his band (including a pair of fiddlers) performing the old stevedore protest song “Pay Me My Money Down on Conan O’Brien,” and as soon as it ends, even if he has a big smelly poop in his pants, he demands the tape be rewound with a chant of “Pay Me Monee Doon two vie-lins!” until he’s seen it 15 times and passes out.

Which I find just adorable. Doesn’t it just make you want to know everything about him?

Kevin Guilfoile
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