Blue collar rock

“Jon Landau assured almost 50 years ago that Bruce Springsteen was the future of rock and roll. In half a century, Springsteen has been given a nickname: The Boss, and above all, he has left his mark on American popular music.” remembers Grégory Phlipps.

Grégory Philipps is today interested in working class Springsteen songs, blue collars, blue collars.

The song “The river“, which “marked a milestone in (his) writing, in 1980, today opens our exploration of the boss’s social gaze. It’s” the story of a couple of teenagers, high school students, confronted with the arrival of a baby who then looks. for a job in a disaster-stricken America, explains Grégory Philipps. Springsteen would later say that it was the story of his sister, Virginia, that inspired him. In his biography, Bruce Springsteen states that “the influence of country was crucial” in the song “The River”. It was on the side of Hank Williams, a country singer who was an important influence for Springsteen, that he got the theme of the river.

Excerpts from the 33rpm album cover,
Excerpt from the cover of the album 33t, “The River” by Bruce Springsteen (1980)

– Columbia (label)

In the late 1940s, early 1950s, another singer would be a major influence for Springsteen, folk singer Pete Seeger. He also sang the working world and the blue collars. For example, in this classic from 1949: which is called If I had a hammer : become a hymn to justice and equality.

Shovels and ropes came out in the Reagan years, in the midst of ultra-liberalism, Grégory Philipps remembers. In this title, Springsteen tells the story of a car worker who is fired from his factory and who then turns to crime. This song is inspired by the 1980 closure of the Ford plant in Mahah, New Jersey, which left more than 3,800 workers inactive.

In his “solo show on stage on Broadway“(our archive of the day), Springsteen never admits to having set foot in a factory. And yet this world runs through all his work,” Grégory Philipps emphasizes.

“In 1995, the formidable album The Ghost of Tom Joad was released, inspired by Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, indicates Grégory Philipps. Youngstowntakes its title from the name of this city in Ohio, where the local steel workers in 1937 had rebelled against their working conditions “.

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In his column on the world of work, therefore, Springsteen was influenced by people like Hank Williams, Pete Seeger, or Woody Guthrie, who will be mentioned in an upcoming episode. But the boss, notes Grégory Philipps, also brought a whole galaxy of artists behind him, making what is called “Blue Collar Rock”.

This is the case with the group The War on Drugs from Philadelphia, whose creator Adam Granduciel claims this legacy quite directly.

In Britain, the young Sam Fender, a formidable singer-songwriter, 28 years old, born in North Shields in the north east of England, today takes the torch. His cover of the classic Atlantic City of Springsteen is a “quite breathtaking version,” Grégory Philipps emphasizes, “with, he notes,” a voice that may be close to a Jeff Buckley’s voice. “

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Musical programming

Bruce Springsteen: The River

Pete Seeger: If I had a hammer

Shovels and Ropes: Johnny 99

Bruce SpringsteenYoungstown

Springsteen Archive on Broadway

The war on drugs: Harmony’s dream

Sam Fender: Atlantic City

To prolong

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