You Know You're Over 40 When…

Archive for the tag “Bruce Springsteen”

You Like The Same Music As The Prime Minister

FRANCE-BRITAIN-DIPLOMACY-HOLLANDE-CAMERON

They say that you know you’re getting older when the policemen start looking younger. Or as I will no doubt be putting it at some point: You know you’re over 40 when… the policemen start looking younger. And the doctors. And teachers. In fact, just about anyone in a position of authority.

Similarly, when you’re in your 40s, the Prime Ministers also start getting younger (as well as pluralised: the only thing worse than a Prime Minister getting younger? ALL the Prime Ministers getting younger). Yes, once you’re over 40, your leader is now statistically more likely to be the same age as you. Or at least the age gap between you is lessening. There was quite a gulf between me and Mrs Thatcher, for example – I was eight when she became Prime Minister, and as a result, I couldn’t relate to her very well. Chiefly because she wasn’t by all accounts a ‘pony person’.

But now? Now, I am 42 and our Prime Minister is 46. So I really shouldn’t be all that surprised that he and I share similar musical tastes. Although naturally I was surprised, and by ‘surprised’ I do of course mean ‘filled with a sense of disappointment bordering on horror’.

I imagine it was different in The Old Days. I doubt it was much of a surprise/disappointment/feeling bordering on horror – or quite such an indicator of the ageing process – to like the same music as the Prime Minister in, say, the 18th century. Back then, everyone listened to Music From The Old Days – or as it is known in some circles, ‘classical’ music – so your only sense of connection (or sign of age) would presumably come from liking the same classical music as the Prime Minister. I hear, for example, that Pitt the Younger was a sucker for a bit of Scarlatti.

That said, I’m sure that all our modern Prime Ministers have enjoyed classical music, too. Posh people tend to. And, modern or not, all British Prime Ministers are posh.

But back to current times – where the only thing worse than liking the same music as the Prime Minister is that the Prime Minister in question is David Cameron. Being reminded once again that I am now at an age where I could be ruling the country, but am instead mainly writing blog posts and watching cat videos, is galling enough. But, as a lily-livered, bleeding-heart, liberal egghead communist, learning that I share these tastes with Cameron is the icing on the cake that the Tories think the peasants should eat (while sitting in front of their massive TVs).

It’s only appropriate that I discovered this horrifying news through the most horrifying of channels, of course. The Daily Mail. It was this article which revealed Cameron’s musical tastes (and penchant for making pancakes of a weekend), and the first name that leapt out at me was First Aid Kit.

First Aid Kit are a wonderful duo who sound like they were born a) in the Sixties and b) in California, despite being a) in their 20s and b) from Stockholm. And I’ll be frank: the only thing more irksome than discovering that the Camerons like them (Sam is particularly keen, apparently) is guessing that they’re fans in exactly the same way that I am. I’ve listened to one First Aid Kit song over and over again, and their album a few times, but I’ve never checked out their full back catalogue or seen them live. I just know the Camerons are fans in this way too, ie. barely fans at all. I can’t even rise above them on this front.

But if the First Aid Kit revelation was a blow, the following extract was the knockout:

“Mr Cameron revealed his musical ‘guilty pleasure’ was listening to Bruce Springsteen.

Mrs Cameron ‘doesn’t like The Boss’ so he can only listen to him when she is away.

In 1985 he queued for hours to see Springsteen in France in ‘one of those concerts that went on for four hours.

‘That was my guilty pleasure. I queued for hours and I was right at the front and I just thought he was fantastic.

‘So, when Samantha is not around there is a little bit of Dancing in the Dark or something like that, or, Born in the USA, so that is my guilty…but actually I like his stuff like Nebraska and all the rather grim dark stuff, so that is my guilty pleasure I suppose.’”

As readers of this blog will know, I adore Bruce Springsteen. The man, the music, the person whose track Wrecking Ball has been covered so spectacularly by Miley Cyrus that it sounds like a completely different song. And so my thought process on reading the passage above went something like this:

1. David Cameron likes Bruce Springsteen. This is awful. Bruce is far too amazing to be appreciated by David Cameron.

2. David Cameron likes Bruce Springsteen. This is good. Bruce is amazing, and I’d like everyone to know and appreciate his music.

3. Except perhaps David Cameron.

4. Samantha Cameron doesn’t like Bruce Springsteen. Good. This gives me one more legitimate reason not to like the Camerons.

5. David Cameron thinks that liking Bruce Springsteen is a “guilty pleasure”. Good. This means I can go back to hating David Cameron again, and the world is in its rightful state once more.

Yes, with Cameron’s stupid, falsely self-deprecating statement – “that is my guilty pleasure” – balance was once again restored in the universe. To like a musician so much that you queue for hours to see him but at the same time be unable to wear your love for that music with pride – to feel that you can’t be seen to enjoy it without a veil of irony – is bad enough. But to do this about Bruce Springsteen, a man with more talent, smarts and empathy in his guitar-picking finger than Cameron has in his pancake-eating body, is staggering. And yet, of course, not. This is David Cameron.

May I suggest, Prime Minister, that the only thing you should feel guilty about is that, while listening to “that grim, dark stuff” of Springsteen’s, you don’t seem to understand its message (here are two handy links for you). Perhaps if you did, you wouldn’t dumb it down as a guilty pleasure – and, slightly more importantly, you wouldn’t be so inclined to push through policies that hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. If you want to feel guilty about something, may I suggest that it’s that – and not listening to ‘Nebraska’? Just a thought. Now, back to First Aid Kit: I’ve got an entire back catalogue to work through…

You Like A Bruce Springsteen T-Shirt In H&M, Then Realise It Isn’t Actually Intended For You

(Note: the situation I’m about to describe can also be applied to a Fleetwood Mac Rumours T-shirt in TopShop.)

I was 13 when Born In The USA came out. But – being 13 – I didn’t quite ‘get’ it. In 1984, I was listening to Wham! and Duran Duran, and I didn’t understand why a sweaty, shouty man in a bandana was dancing in the dark, let alone on fire. (Mind you, I didn’t really understand Duran Duran’s lyrics, either. But then, who did?)

600full-born-in-the-u.s.a.-cover

No, Born In The USA only came to life for me three years later, when it became the soundtrack to a school exchange trip to Germany (turns out the Germans liked Bruce Springsteen, even if I didn’t). Forced to listen to Immersed in tracks like Glory Days, Downbound Train and Bobby Jean – under the summery skies of Bavaria, and occasionally through the PA system of a coach – Bruce, and his songs, suddenly began to make sense to me. Of course, this might have been due to the fact that I was now a wiser, more musically sophisticated, hormonal 16-year-old… But whatever the reason, I grew to love what is, of course, a glorious album. Although Bruce was still a little too sweaty for my liking.

And then later in the same year, I gained an American pen friend – a brooding, intellectual type from Massachusetts – who worshipped Bruce Springsteen and sent me cassette tapes of all his earlier albums, along with an end-of-year essay he’d written about the meanings and imagery in Jungleland.

As a result, I fell hook, line and New Jersey fishing boat sinker for Springsteen. More specifically: for his music, which was unlike anything else I was listening to at the time. The energy of songs like Rosalita and Badlands, the sheer sexiness and lowdown dirtiness of tracks like For You and The River, the plaintive cries of troubled smalltown Americans who wanted to flee their small lives – whether forever or just for one night – in songs like Born To Run, Hungry Heart and Atlantic City… Springsteen’s music was exotic and familiar all at once. I too wanted to leave my small town (Wombourne, Staffordshire), although unfortunately I couldn’t drive, which all of Bruce’s protagonists seemed able to do. And while I’d never known what it was like to make love in the dirt – let alone to do so with a girl called ‘Crazy Janey’ – I dreamed of it happening some day soon. Preferably with a boy wearing a denim shirt and a guitar slung over his shoulder… sigh…

Sorry, where was I?

Ah, yes. Standing in H&M. Looking at a Bruce Springsteen T-shirt.

I’d owned a Fame T-shirt as a girl, but never a Bruce Springsteen one. So imagine my delight when, as a fortysomething, I spotted one in H&M. bruceT As I stood there handling this cheap-yet-magnificent item of clothing, my delight turned to admiration as I realised what excellent taste the people at H&M head office had. “Wow, like me, they realise how under-appreciated Bruce and Born In The USA are!” I thought to myself. “Good for them! They’ve made a T-shirt for people who love Born In The USA, like me!”.

And then it hit me.

Standing in H&M, surrounded by H&M’s core demographic, it hit me.

This T-shirt wasn’t meant for me. It was meant for girls whose parents owned and appreciated Born In The USA. It was meant for girls who probably thought that this was quite amusing. That Bruce Springsteen is cool but only in an ironic, my-parents-like-him, way.

They say that if you remember a fashion the first time around, you shouldn’t wear it the second time. Thus the resurgence of Eighties looks in the Noughties was not aimed at people like me, but at kids who found it cool and ironic to wear Eighties fashions and had no idea how we suffered for our crimped hair and puffball skirts.

Likewise, this T-shirt wasn’t made for me, or any of my fellow fortysomething Springsteen fans. It was made for 21 year-old actresses:

graphic-tee-emma-roberts(That’s Emma Roberts, niece of 45 year-old Bruce Springsteen fan Julia Roberts.)

And 23-year-old fashion bloggers:Screen shot 2013-02-02 at 14.28.31

For me to copy this phenomenon – ie to wear a T-shirt resplendent with the cover of an album my parents owned when I was growing up – I would have to walk around with this on my chest:

Beethoven-SymphonyBeethoven’s Symphony No.6, as never seen on any T-shirt

And so I left H&M feeling slightly sad, and really rather old, because (a) I really wanted to wear that Born In The USA T-shirt, but (b) I realised that it was intended for girls young enough to be my daughter or niece. And to add insult to injury, (c) it then dawned on me that those clever people at H&M’s head office who had come up with the idea probably weren’t my age, either. That H&M’s head office is staffed by ironic twentysomethings whose parents like Bruce Springsteen.

Good old – and by old, I do of course mean young – H&M.

Oh, and that’s the other thing. You know you’re over 40 when it’s something of a struggle to call it H&M. Because in your heart, it was, is, and always will be: Hennes.

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