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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For Just One Day, TL was "The Boss" on E-Street Radio

The set list from my 1st Springsteen Show
BOSTON - Even though I'd heard it "promo'd" a million times, I never gave much thought to the concept that I could "Be the Boss" on satellite radio, but the inspiration came one summer weekend while unwinding on Cape Cod and I took a few minutes to walk out to the car to listen to my buddy, Sammy, do his segment on Sirius XM's "E Street Radio." He had sent an email to a few of his fellow Springsteen fans to note that he was lucky enough to be selected by the producers at E Street Radio when they turn over the controls to fans who can choose five songs to play as the clock strikes 10am Eastern. (The segments are pre-recorded).

Sammy did a great job and it gave me the confidence to go online, check out the rules and to electronically throw my hat in the ring to see if I would get a "call back." I did, indeed, and it came in the form of an email with two simple forms to fill out. I did and I faxed the entry in to the producers at  It could not have been easier except for one HUGE oversight. I had to decide which five Springsteen songs I was going to play. That took me days upon days, weeks upon weeks to decide.

After getting the basics down and I recovered from hyperventilating at the enormity of my task, I framed my choices with the following guidelines:

1. I wanted to take a little "journey" through my experiences with Bruce and the band from his first album - dropped during my HS/freshman year of college - until today.

2. I wanted ALL LIVE versions of the songs.

After getting the framework set in my mind, I reached out to one of my best friends in the world - we call him Spy - (long story...) - and he helped me get to the finish line. Spy is no nonsense! That's why we all love him.

You see, Spy doesn't like any bullshit. He doesn't have time for that. He has time for his family and friends, and he has time for sports - all kinds of sports on TV and in person. He likes college hoops and football,  the NBA, NHL, every football Sunday in the NFL and a little baseball.  He has time to work and he works his ass off... one of the most dedicated, hard workers I've ever met. He also has time to play hard and he makes time for music. Over the many years, we've attended dozens of live rock show together, mainly in New York, but we've caught shows together in DC, Boston, Hartford, Philly and enjoyed one particularly great weekend in 2007 when we did the rooftop thing with the Chicago Cubs across the street from Wrigley, then connected back to Newark, NJ to see "Sting" that next night at the old Meadowlands Stadium.  We've covered NBA stuff from NY to no fewer than 22 States, a half-dozen countries, which included an Olympic Games and Olympic trials from Sydney to San Juan.

So, anyway, good ole Spyder or, "Spydie Me Boy" - helped me narrow it down. Quite frankly, once I had the five (5) songs set in my mind, his help got me home in about 10-15 minutes because he helped cut right to the all-time best versions of each song.

Here was the thought process:

1. I wanted "Spirit in the Night." Period. It was the first Springsteen song I really liked as it was on "Greetings from Asbury Park," his first album. With this song, I had seen Bruce and the band perform it dozens of times but I didn't have one particular version in mind, although the "right" choice was a version from the Dec. 31, 1980-to-Jan. 1, 1981 concert at Nassau Coliseum. That was my first LIVE Springsteen concert. (Pretty good way to start, eh? - as that show is often considered to be amongst the Top 2-3 performances in Springsteen history).

So, I got my "Spirit" but I was 20% of the way home, four to go.

2. Secondly, I wanted an "ass-kickin'" song that would make listeners stop in their tracks and say, "Holy Shit! This fan is bringing it."

After sorting out all the great "Show Stoppers," like Rosalita, Badlands, Thunder Road, BTR, The River, Tenth Ave - I came down to the realization that it had to be "my" favorite, all-time "in-concert" Springsteen song.  That song, written by Springsteen for Patti Smith and her "Patti Smith Group" is entitled "Because the Night."

The song was written for Springsteen's "Darkness" album but it didn't make the cut. Soon afterward, Patti Smith collaborated with Bruce, performed the song live at CBGBs in NYC in December 1977 (I was a HS senior but was NOT there.  I wish!). They released it as a single in 1978 and the rest is history as "Because the Night" ranks in the Top 150 rock songs of all-time. As suggested by Spy, the version I chose to play on the "Be the Boss" segment was from the 25th Anniversary of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame TV show (aired Oct. 29, 2009).

It was pretty cool to be guest DJ on a segment and to have U2's Bono pick-up the intro with his classic accent and his line introducing Springsteen and Patti Smith, "This is the song we wish we'd written." Damn, if Bono says it's a song he wishes he'd written, it must be a pretty good song.

By the way, my "Because the Night" choice also checked off two other goals I'd set for myself in the selection process - and that was to have an 'ass-kickin' guitar solo and a "cover" included amongst my choices. Both U2's "Edge" and Bruce play a little guitar and it's pretty cool to have Adam Clayton (bass) and Larry Mullen (drums) and U2 as part of my "cover" segment.

Here is what we played:

3. Number 3 and 4 were the easy ones. If I was going to "Be the Boss" - I was going to play a song from "Live '75-'85" and right from the start, the choice was "Racing in the Street," a perfect tribute to The Professor and also a "quieter" song to bridge together two all-out speaker-busters ...

(Oh, yeah - forgot to mention ... When I was listening to my "Be the Boss" segment and the "Because the Night tune came on, I pulled my own little version of Marty McFly in Back to the Future with my (formerly known as Bose speakers). After you click on the link above, you'll see what the hell I'm writing about, but that'll be a story for another day).

So my tribute to "Roy" was easily segued to my tribute to "The Big Man" when I added "Jungleland" to the set as the fourth tune, my personal thanks to the late Clarence Clemons and it made sense, since Jungleland is also one of my Top 5 Bruce favorites. (they change on any given day, so no big deal).

5. Number 5! Cinco! Oh my. This was the tough one. I was very happy with the fact I'd picked four songs which brought me through the full journey with the E Street band. Now I had to make a tough, hard choice. After the initial period of indecision and angst over this simple task, it has now come down to one selection. I could only find one solution to get it home.

I had to pick my all-time favorite Bruce Springsteen song and it had to register across all points of musicology, fandom, concert-going experiences, deep meaning, US history and when it played, I wanted to be really satisfied that I'd left the listeners with a real piece of my soul.

So, when it all came down to the finish,  my "Be the Boss" finale was "The Rising." Here's what I said to the listeners on Sirius XM as it stands as a pretty decent intro to best explain my thinking and to close out this blog post.
"It's time for my fifth and final song. I have to be honest with my fellow E-Street listeners, there was a time -- not that long ago -- when I drifted away from Bruce. The times had changed, I had changed, my tastes in music had changed, and quite frankly, I was just busy doing other things and listening to far less music, and ... That was not Good. But as those times changed, that awful September day came about. Bruce was there witnessing ... just like we were. It took a while, but he was there for us in the healing process as well. The heroes of 9-11 climbed those stairs and we all knew their fate. They knew their fate and it was so damn sad. That time came, we all tried to mourn, but then everything changed because along came "The Rising.
"I hope you'll enjoy this rendition of "the Rising" from the MTV Music Awards at New York's Museum of Natural History. That song brought me back and I'm sure it inspires us all.  I'll dedicate it to my good colleague, Pat Riley of the Miami HEAT. He's a huge Springsteen fan and was a very good friend of the late Clarence Clemons. So that's it. This is Terry Lyons, fan of Bruce Springsteen, proud resident of E Street. I'm signing off, sending it back - here's "The Rising."

Hope you enjoyed (what was supposed to be 30 minutes) 41 minutes of my life and times with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.


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