Not Such Glory Days


Bruce Springsteen is one of those artists I’ve been meaning to listen to properly for years. I fear it’s the size of his back catalogue that’s put me off. However, listening by chance to a documentary on him last eek, on my way back from a band rehearsal myself, makes me think maybe the time has come. The prog was the second part  of Bruce Springsteen: Long Walk Home (available on iPlayer), hosted by Guy Garvey of Elbow, a band I have no intention of getting into ever. Springsteen talked about how he’d never done an honest day’s work in his life, and that his blue collar everyman persona was basically a portrayal of his father.

He went on to discuss his father’s life-long depression, and how he struggled to acknowledge it, still less deal with it properly. Theirs was a relationship marked by terrible communication and sullen silences, with the few words that were spoken usually being harsh. However, old man Springsteen was pleased when his boy failed the medical for Vietnam. They’d always loved each other; by the time Springsteen senior died,  they liked each other too.

The Springsteen family was unusual for the time in that it was The Boss’s mother who was the breadwinner, with his father unemployed for long stretches at a time. The next night, in a discussion about diversity on The Bottom Line (R4, Thursdays, 8.30pm), I heard academic Scott Page explain that the average age of board directors in the US is 71. In other words, men who graduated 50 years ago. ‘Most of our prestigious schools didn’t allow women in 1967,’ said Page. ‘Guys are running organisations who didn’t go to college with women. I’ve had men say to me “I’m surprised how many smart ladies there are.”’ Do you ever feel progress will be painfully slow?

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