Christopher Phillips, publisher and editor-in-chief of the authoritative and long-running Springsteen website Backstreets, announced in February that it had “reached the end of the road.” And while the site still exists, and fans still communicate with each other on its Ticket Exchange page, its News and Tour/Ticket Info and Setlists pages have not been updated since then.
Longtime Backstreets contributor Shawn Poole has taken it upon himself, though, to create a new Springsteen-related site, titled Letters to You (and living at letterstoyou.net) and subtitled “The Springsteen fan’s companion … for this part of the ride.” It launched this week.
Poole writes in his introductory post:
As a Springsteen fan who believes that there remains a lot of interesting and inspiring stuff to read and write about this major artist’s ongoing career, I feel that the end of Backstreets as we’ve known it has left myself and many other fans “stranded in the park,” at least momentarily. We’ve been left in want of a new online home for not only our regular Springsteen-related news updates and analyses, but also for deeper, more thoughtful dives into the music’s past, present, and future, as Bruce continues to build and sustain his multi-generational, international audience. A home for fan-driven writing that informs, challenges, and inspires, for sure, but is also — like the best of what Backstreets offered — non-academic and non-preachy, focusing instead on the passion, the accessibility, and even the appropriate doses of humor and self-deprecation that mark fandom at its best.
As of this morning, there are five posts on the site:
• “Welcome to the Letters To You website!” Poole’s essay on why he is starting the site, with the quote above and more.
• “Bruce’s latest ‘Letter to Us…’ — E Street Radio’s Greg Drew dives into the 2023 tour’s setlist.” An introduction by Poole, and then some of Drew’s comments from one of his recent “Legendary E Street Band” shows on SiriusXM satellite radio’s “E Street Radio” channel, in which he analyzes the setlists on the current tour.
Talking about the way the song “Backstreets” was played in Milwaukee, March 7, Drew says “it was really the reimagined coda that made it so special and dramatic. Gone for now is the sad eyed girl who lied; the tag now is one more tribute to a departed companion, a loved one whom Bruce vows to carry in his heart. Personally, I’ve always thought the 1978 version of ‘Backstreets’ was the best and most moving. Maybe because I’m also 45 years older now and have suffered my own share of losses, but I’m not so sure this isn’t the best.”
• “Lu’s Blues: Lisa Iannucci on Lucinda Williams and her album ROCK N ROLL HEART (feat. Bruce & Patti).” An album review along with some background information on Williams.
• ” ‘Let The Record Show…’ — Solving The Mystery Behind Bruce Springsteen’s First Purchased Vinyl.” A long article by Poole (which was “long-gestating,” he writes as well) exploring the question of what, exactly, was the first rock record that the young Bruce Springsteen bought. Springsteen has described it as a four-song EP by Dusty Rhodes, but working with slightly different descriptions of it that Springsteen has given on two different occasions, Poole concludes that it is actually a four-song 1957 EP featuring Dusty Glass’ cover of the Elvis Presley hit “Jailhouse Rock” and covers of three other hits of the day by other artists.
• ” ‘I Could Use Just A Little Help…’ — Bruce lends a hand on some others’ new records.” A roundup covering Springsteen’s contributions to John Mellencamp’s recent Orpheus Descending album (he wrote the song “Perfect World”); Lucinda Williams’ Stories From a Rock N Roll Heart (as mentioned in Iannucci’s review, Springsteen and Patti Scialfa sing on two songs); and the Gaslight Anthem single “History Books” (a duet by Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon).
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