Monday, October 26, 2009

Bruce Springsteen, Romance Novelist

You laugh at my love for The Boss? I was a teenager in 1984, unlike my fellow DSWs, and that pair of faded jeans and the white t-shirt ... that inspired me.* I'm here to share my belief that my favorite musician is also a closet romance novelist under his guitar. Or could be.

Take the first song on Springsteen's latest Working on a Dream. Like a twenty-year old Kathleen E. Woodiwiss novel you find at a used book store, printed when publishers trusted readers to have sufficient attention spans, Outlaw Pete is a ballad by a man who trusts his listeners to stick with him through a full eight minutes of music. Eight minutes, one song. Remind anyone of Diana Gabaldon? He's penned one of the classic Western romance plots: Very Bad Dude reforms, falls in love (with a Navajo maiden, no less) and starts a family. Then a bounty hunter shows up to remind him that a fresh start's not that easy. Bruce Springsteen, historical romance writer.

Queen of the Supermarket could be a perfect category romance if a publisher retitled it The Billionaire's Secret Checkout Clerk.

I take my place in the checkout line.
For one moment her eyes meet mine ...
I'm in love with the queen of the supermarket.
Though a company cap covers her hair
Nothing can hide the beauty waiting there.

You think The Boss can't tackle paranormal despite the night elements on the album cover? Try This Life. "Chained to this earth we go on and on and on ... This life, this life and then the next. I finger the hem of your dress, my universe at rest." No undead vampire lover ever said it better.

What musicians or songs remind you of romance novels? Post your own favorites in the comments. I'll reply after I finish cruising around with the car radio cranked to 28 (shocks the Dear Canadian when he has to drive my car; makes the kids yell at me.).

* Born in the USA cover. Seven Top Ten singles back when Casey Kasem mattered.


Kate Diamond said...

Delightful post!

I'm not sure I have any specific artists that make me think of romance novels, but I make a playlist on my I-Pod for every book I write.

Amos Lee tends to feature pretty heavily. I don't know if he's a closet romance novelist or my closet romance novel HERO, but he certainly inspires me!

EilisFlynn said...

I'm not fond of the guy, but I know plenty of people who are. Although most of them would be horrified to think of the macho chauvinist as a romance novelist!

Anna Richland said...

Eilis, I'm not sure there's room for dissent on this thread! Seriously, it's okay if you're not a fan. I'll still talk to you. But really the new album is much less dark and less political than his other recent work. The happy birthday love song is wonderful - as some reviewers have noted, it's like cake with a lot of frosting. Or perhaps like a romance novel. A distinctly happy ending. Be prepared the next time you're in my car ...

Anna Richland said...

Kate - 5:25 am? Now I'm feeling really lazy for getting up at 6:30 to write. I don't have to take the Big Boy to school until 8:55 so 6:30 seemed ambitious (and I did edit 2 more pages). Tomorrow 5:30 for me too.

Mary said...

I don't have any specific artists, I just like listening to all kinds of music while I'm reading. I did once read a horror novel while listening to Oingo Boingo's "It's a Dead Man's Party" over and over again. lol Seemed rather fitting.

But for the most part I listen to metal, while reading. Listening to Disturbed or Avenged Sevenfold doesn't really conjure up romantic images but the fast beats help me read faster. lol

Anna Richland said...

I wonder if metal beats would help me write faster?

I certainly feel the downer when my favorite coffee shop plays The Decemberists. They are not a romance novel. They're like Ulysses or something.

But do the lyrics of any of your favorite songs conjure a plot? Or sketch a hero?

Warren Zevon has inspired almost all my heroes, which I guess makes them anti-heroes. My current hero is inspired by Roland the Headless Thomson Gunner and the next one is probably going to be Mr. Bad Example. No one ever knows those songs anymore - but Bruce loved Zevon too.

Misty Evans said...

Anna,I just stumbled across this blog and I love your idea of Bruce being a romance novelist. So many of his songs lend themselves to the genre...Thunder Road, The River, Dancing in the Dark, Brilliant Disguise, All That Heaven Will Allow...I could go on and on.

I think Bon Jovi is another closet romance novelist. He writes some pretty good love songs.

Very enjoyable post!