“In Dreams” was the theme of Bruce Springsteen’s 10th DJ show on SiriusXM satellite radio, Aug. 14. In a departure from convention inspired by its theme, the show aired at midnight on a Friday rather than on a Wednesday morning.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but like most of Springsteen’s recent DJ shows, it featured a lot of reminiscing. He also played more of his own music (five songs) than he has on most of the previous shows, and read a Robert Louis Stevenson poem. And he told a sharply detailed fictional story about a nightclub manager and a woman he meets.
Clocking in at about an hour and 20 minutes, it was a little shorter than most of his recent shows.
You can read what Springsteen said here, and see videos for the nocturnal songs that were played. In some cases, a version of the song may have been played that is different from what is embedded in this post.
Intro music: Music from “Once Upon a Time in the West” soundtrack, Ennio Morricone (Note: Here is the entire soundtrack. I am not sure exactly what portion was played, but this will give you some idea of what it sounded like.)
“Good evening, good evening, my night crawlers and night owls. And welcome to the night shift. We are meeting at midnight tonight, for a special evening of music for which the night time is the right time. This is Vol. 10 of ‘From My Home to Yours,’ titled ‘In Dreams.’ And that, of course, was the late, great maestro Ennio Morricone, with music from ‘Once Upon a Time in the West.’ ”
“Some Velvet Morning,” Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood
“That was the wonderfully fabulous and somewhat fabulously creepy ‘Some Velvet Morning,’ by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra.
“Tonight, we will start with a favorite of mine, as a child: Robert Louis Stevenson. I remember the summer I spent in my grandmother’s porch rocking chair, drinking cold lemonade and reading ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Treasure Island.’ Long John Silver, Jim Hawkins, mutiny, treasure maps, pirate ships.
“The man who brought us ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ was also a poet. This is a poem of his that’s fit for the evening.
“Now the Land of Nod is mentioned in the Book of Genesis. It is where Cain was exiled by God after Cain had murdered his brother Abel, and Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the Land of Nod on the East of Eden. Nod is the Hebrew root of the verb ‘to wander.’ Therefore, to dwell in the Land of Nod can mean to be condemned to live a wandering life, I have known a little bit about that life.
“This is ‘The Land of Nod’:
“From breakfast on through all the day
“At home among my friends I stay,
“But every night I go abroad
“Afar into the land of Nod.
“All by myself I have to go,
“With none to tell me what to do —
“All alone beside the streams
“And up the mountain-sides of dreams.
“The strangest things are there for me,
“Both things to eat and things to see,
“And many frightening sights abroad
“Till morning in the land of Nod.
“Try as I like to find the way,
“I never can get back by day,
“Nor can remember plain and clear
“The curious music that I hear.”
“American,” Lana Del Rey
“That is ‘American,’ by the lovely Lana Del Ray. She’s, uh, name checking some guy from New Jersey in there. I’m not sure who, but … uh, she is from New York, and was raised in Lake Placid. Lake Placid, a fabulous little American town where I have spent many a lovely summer evening with my children and my family over the years. And Lana is simply one of the best songwriters in the country, as we speak. She just creates a world of her own and invites you in. So a big favorite of mine, the lovely Lana Del Rey.
“For most of my life, I had no great fondness for the day. I was a born night crawler, up till 3 a.m. as a young child. Daylight hours meant waking too early, schoolwork, and somebody else runnin’ my life. But at night, I found my mind came to life. I felt a stimulation, and a creative excitement, a freedom, that eluded me in the day. At night, I felt most like myself.
“Writing The River, I would rise around 4 p.m. I would crawl into the kitchen, I would eat a bowl of Cheerios, and I would go to work. Now I’d work for three hours, popping rough cassettes into my cassette player, and living and dying over each and every written word. I’d take a 7:30 break to watch the ’77 Yankees battle the hated Dodgers until Reggie, Mr. October, launched three consecutive pitches from three different pitchers into the stands, putting one stadium and one small room in Holmdel, N.J., into an uproar. I’d finish my milk and my brownies, my baseball rations, and around 11 p.m., I’d pick my guitar back up. I would head to my workroom/bedroom, go to my desk and work till dawn. During the night, I’d grab anything to eat that would keep me burning, and I would bunk in around 8 a.m. For an entire fall and winter, I led a vampireish existence, barely catching any daylight.
“All that night was just something that came naturally to me. There was just something I loved about being awake as the straight world slept. It excited me. It sparked my creativity. And it gave me the uninterrupted peace and quiet I needed to work. Occasionally I’d break curfew, just to get out of the house. I’d take a 2 or 3 a.m. night drive in my ’60 ‘vette, over the local roads of Monmouth County, the darkness and shadows of the highway at night was where I lived. I was a wandering spirit, barely there, looking briefly into the dimly lit homes, where I could be living any one of a thousand other lives, filled with family, and friends. But I wasn’t. For now, the life I chose was here: the life of words, the life of song, the life of these roads, of these evenings. This life. And all it gave and all it withheld, was my life.
“It was on one of these night drives, I came up with the idea for this.”
“Stolen Car,” Bruce Springsteen
“Strangest Thing,” War on Drugs”
“That was War on Drugs, with ‘Strangest Thing.’ War on Drugs are out of Philadelphia and they are led by Adam Granduciel, who is the singer, guitarist, songwriter, record producer of, in my opinion, one of the last of the great rock bands.
“Well, though I had many fine girlfriends, as a young man I was not lucky at love. I was always sure to choose someone with whom it would never work out. I could spot the wrong woman across a crowded dance floor, in a packed club, and be certain before I spoke two words, or looked deeply into a pair of lovely, unsuspecting eyes, that this was never gonna work out. Now, I mean, I didn’t know at the time, I just knew it, in my bones or something. Of course I wouldn’t figure it out until two or three years into the relationship. But I always suspected I instinctively knew it from the top, and I had it perfected to an art, one completely fine and decent woman after another, at a mostly monogamous two- or three-year interval. I seemed to be incapable of choosing any other than women you could not unlock, women whose hearts remained passionately untouchable, who remained a mystery, even unto themselves. The unknown soul in them always just out of reach. Or maybe that was me.”
“In My Secret Life,” Leonard Cohen with Sharon Robinson
“That was Leonard Cohen with the wonderful ‘In My Secret Life.’ Now let’s go to the streets of Asbury Park and Long Branch, when the small-time mob was still active in Central Jersey, circa 1975. This is from The Promise. This is ‘Breakaway.’ ”
“Breakaway,” Bruce Springsteen
“Meeting Across the River,” Bruce Springsteen
“That’s our gangland doubleheader for this evening. Now, let’s go dancing.
“All right, the dance floor is empty. The hour is late. I am behind the bar, where I have cashed out, and I have served my last beer. I have announced last call. The bar has been cleaned and cleared, with the exception of two tequilas, 10 feet down the bar from where you are sitting on a corner stool, nursing your last drink. And I am 10 feet on the other side of those two tequilas, not watching the band. Now, in a perfect world, we could meet at these two tequilas. Bottom’s up, glasses empty, then let’s you and I find something slow and fill that dance floor. On the way to the dance floor, my elbow brushes your elbow gently, my arm slips around your waist, feeling your ribs beneath my right hand. My left hand slips around your wrist and our fingers intertwine, as your arm slowly settles into the middle of my back, with your chin at the top of my chest. And then, your head rests ever so lightly on my shoulder.”
“Sad Eyes,” Bruce Springsteen
“Now the bar is cleared out, the dance floor is empty, leaving just you and I. I head to the back bar, into the manager’s office. I grab my jacket. I hit the main light switch. And when I come out, you’re sitting in the shadows of the back bar. Now just 50 feet from our dance floor is a side exit. And just 20 feet from that side exit, sitting at the curb, is a ’69 Super Sport, your magic chariot. Climb on in. Destination: Unknown.”
“Something in the Night,” Bruce Springsteen
“Oh, I was persona non grata at my first real girlfriend’s house. It was 1965. Maybe it was the hair, my cultivated look of dishevelment, but whatever it was, I was marked as an undesirable by my perfect girlfriend’s mother. Now, I was 15, and my gal was a year younger than me, 14. But though a year younger, she had a surprising, burgeoning sexuality that showed me up for being as inexperienced as I was at that age. But I had one thing goin’ for me. I was forbidden. I was not to be had. I was not to be touched. And she had a bit of a closeted rebellious streak of her own, so when mom was away, we ventured to mom’s bedroom, where she introduced me, for the first time, to what I think was full-on sex, though due to the fog of war, 55 years later, I can’t be completely sure. All I remember was she was beautiful, with a softness and a kindness, cut by a streak of cruelty I should have took more notice of.
“Now in the shadows always lurked a major problem to our paradise. You see, she was solidly middle class. Perfect plaid skirt, blouse with the Peter Pan collar, white socks, long blond tresses. I was a denizen from the far side of nowhere, where Blacks intermingled with whites, where a man never left his house in a suit unless he was going to church or in trouble. Where the firemen, and the truck drivers, and the auto workers gathered around each other’s porches on summer nights and passed beers and stories of the week around.
“Well, her mother could not help but be disappointed in and disapprove of who she thought I was. So the word came down, and she theatrically threatened to get a restraining order that would forbid me from seeing her perfect daughter. Now, her perfect daughter had plenty of ‘Fuck you, mom’ in her, so we began to meet at night, at the Broad Street schoolyard. And there, amongst the empty monkey bars and sliding boards and swings and seesaws, stood an oak tree that became our rendezvous and redemption point. We worked and leaned hard against that oak’s trunk on many a summer and fall night, trying to find whatever pleasure and satisfaction we could there. She stole time from mama, girlfriends and homework, to meet me there, but it was always too short and a little painful. But at least she’d come. And we were there together.
“Then one night she didn’t come. Or the next night, either. So I sat on the swings with the rest of the ghosts, dragging my feet through stones and dirt, until 2 a.m. Then I went home. The revolution was over. Whatever use I had been, I was needed no longer. I had engaged the enemy on the field of the battle of love and I had been defeated. Or maybe she just got tired of it all. It became too much of a hassle. Well, I finally caught her at her locker in school, one morning, and she tried to be kind, but I wouldn’t let her. I wanted to hear her say it was all over. So she said it. I went home, and I decided to rid myself of her, to relieve my heart of her, to release my mind of the burden of thinking of her. It didn’t work. I’d see her in my dreams.”
“In Dreams,” Roy Orbison
“That was the voice, the great one, the man in the black shades, and simply the darkest and most emotionally exquisite voice in all of pop music. There is never nor will there ever be another Roy Orbison. Sing on, brother Roy.
“Coming up is a piece of music Patti and I absolutely fell in love with, when we fell in love. It is a song of a hejira of travel in search of one’s soul, one’s heart, one’s love. It’s a confession of frailty and doubt in the face of committed love, and then the meager beginnings of hope.
“How do we live beneath the beauty of God’s hand? How do we become worthy of the love that he’s made possible for us on Earth? And how do we light and carry our own lamp through the darkness? How do we be brave in His name and in our love?”
“The Hawk,” Mark Isham and Marianne Faithfull
“That was the inimitable and gorgeous voice of Marianne Faithfull, who accompanied Patti and I on many a midnight ride. She was accompanied by Mark Isham on trumpet on a song written by Kris Kristofferson titled ‘The Hawk.’
“And that’s our show for this evening, folks. That’s ‘In Dreams.’ I want to thank all of you nighthawks, night crawlers, night riders, for joining me in the midnight hour, on the night shift. And until we meet again, please stay safe, stay smart, stay healthy, stay strong, stay in love, sleep tight, and I’ll see you in your wildest dreams.”
“In Your Wildest Dreams,” Reverend Horton Heat
You can read transcripts of what Springsteen has said on the previous nine shows, and see YouTube videos of all the songs he has played, via these links:
APRIL 8 (a tribute to the late John Prine and more)
APRIL 24 (thoughts on life during pandemic, New York songs and more)
MAY 6 (when the pandemic is over, he promises, “50,000 people will once again scream their heads off somewhere in New Jersey”)
MAY 20 (a tribute to the late Little Richard and more)
JUNE 3 (protest songs and more)
JUNE 17 (a “rock ‘n’ roll requiem” for those who have died from coronavirus)
JULY 1 (discussion with and songs by Southside Johnny and Steven Van Zandt)
JULY 15 (summertime songs and memories)
JULY 29 (discussion with and songs by Patti Scialfa).
Also, click here for some of my thoughts on this ambitious series in general.
Though Springsteen is not officially on a schedule for these shows, and there won’t necessarily be any more after today, he has been doing them once every other week for more than three months.
The shows have lasted between 70 minutes and two hours each, and are being broadcast on SiriusXM’s E Street Radio channel (channel 20), with repeats and on-demand availability following the initial broadcast.
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