[video] I Have Seen the Next Springsteen and Her Name Is Taylor Swift
Carlton knows a thing or two about music. He has a Ph.D. in it. But, before he has even stated his case and subsequently had the chance to defend himself, I charge Carlton with doing something many music lovers -- casual and serious -- do:
Misunderstanding, shortchanging and discounting the power, the glory, the magic and the ministry of Taylor Swift.
On Tuesday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Swift put on the 16th or 17th or maybe 20th best rock-n-roll show I have ever seen. Yes, rock-n-roll and, yes, the 16th, 17th or 20th best I've ever seen. That's because I'm having difficulty determining how many Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band shows I have been to. It's between 15 and 20. And, without question, every single one of them did more for me than a Taylor Swift concert ever could. But, that's me, a 38-year old guy from a provincial small city in Western New York who, as a teenager, used to drink beer under a viaduct on Hyde Park Boulevard in mid-December while pumping my fist to Springsteen's "No Surrender." It's all about context. If you suspend personal circumstances, I'm not sure how you can watch Swift perform and not walk away claiming you have seen the modern-day iteration of Springsteen, the performer, the show(wo)man, the songwriter. Consider this clip of Swift introducing and belting out her classic hit, "Mean," from Monday's set at Staples: That has Springsteen, particularly a younger, more wordy Springsteen, written all over it. And I mean this as the highest form of compliment to both Springsteen and Swift. Swift isn't trying to be anything, but herself. That's where she's most like Bruce. In her ability to be authentic and original and, through what is clearly a very personal and mentally arduous process, connect with an audience of her peers. You cannot simply mimic a great who came before you and strut the fine balance of stage presence, sincerity and spectacle Swift brings night after night after night.
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