The Boss and D’Arch

As an eternal Springsteen fan, I offer this article to my fellow David Archuleta fans. I think you’ll soon see why:

**************************

The Other Education
By David Brooks

Like many of you, I went to elementary school, high school and college. I took such and such classes, earned such and such grades, and amassed such and such degrees.

But on the night of Feb. 2, 1975, I turned on WMMR in Philadelphia and became mesmerized by a concert the radio station was broadcasting. The concert was by a group I’d never heard of — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Thus began a part of my second education.

We don’t usually think of this second education. For reasons having to do with the peculiarities of our civilization, we pay a great deal of attention to our scholastic educations, which are formal and supervised, and we devote much less public thought to our emotional educations, which are unsupervised and haphazard. This is odd, since our emotional educations are much more important to our long-term happiness and the quality of our lives.

In any case, over the next few decades Springsteen would become one of the professors in my second education. In album after album he assigned a new course in my emotional curriculum.

This second education doesn’t work the way the scholastic education works. In a normal schoolroom, information walks through the front door and announces itself by light of day. It’s direct. The teacher describes the material to be covered, and then everybody works through it.

The knowledge transmitted in an emotional education, on the other hand, comes indirectly, seeping through the cracks of the windowpanes, from under the floorboards and through the vents. It’s generally a byproduct of the search for pleasure, and the learning is indirect and unconscious.

From that first night in the winter of 1975, I wanted the thrill that Springsteen was offering. His manager, Jon Landau, says that each style of music elicits its own set of responses. Rock, when done right, is jolting and exhilarating.

Once I got a taste of that emotional uplift, I was hooked. The uplifting experiences alone were bound to open the mind for learning.

I followed Springsteen into his world. Once again, it wasn’t the explicit characters that mattered most. Springsteen sings about teenage couples out on a desperate lark, workers struggling as the mills close down, and drifters on the wrong side of the law. These stories don’t directly touch my life, and as far as I know he’s never written a song about a middle-age pundit who interviews politicians by day and makes mind-numbingly repetitive school lunches at night.

What mattered most, as with any artist, were the assumptions behind the stories. His tales take place in a distinct universe, a distinct map of reality. In Springsteen’s universe, life’s “losers” always retain their dignity. Their choices have immense moral consequences, and are seen on an epic and anthemic scale.

There are certain prominent neighborhoods on his map — one called defeat, another called exaltation, another called nostalgia. Certain emotional chords — stoicism, for one — are common, while others are absent. “There is no sarcasm in his writing,” Landau says, “and not a lot of irony.”

I find I can’t really describe what this landscape feels like, especially in newspaper prose. But I do believe his narrative tone, the mental map, has worked its way into my head, influencing the way I organize the buzzing confusion of reality, shaping the unconscious categories through which I perceive events. Just as being from New York or rural Georgia gives you a perspective from which to see the world, so spending time in Springsteen’s universe inculcates its own preconscious viewpoint.

Then there is the man himself. Like other parts of the emotional education, it is hard to bring the knowledge to consciousness, but I do think important lessons are communicated by that embarrassed half-giggle he falls into when talking about himself. I do think a message is conveyed in the way he continually situates himself within a tradition — de-emphasizing his own individual contributions, stressing instead the R&B groups, the gospel and folk singers whose work comes out through him.

I’m not claiming my second education has been exemplary or advanced. I’m describing it because I have only become aware of it retrospectively, and society pays too much attention to the first education and not enough to the second.

In fact, we all gather our own emotional faculty — artists, friends, family and teams. Each refines and develops the inner instrument with a million strings.

Last week, my kids attended their first Springsteen concert in Baltimore. At one point, I looked over at my 15-year-old daughter. She had her hands clapped to her cheeks and a look of slack-jawed, joyous astonishment on her face. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing — 10,000 people in a state of utter abandon, with Springsteen surrendering himself to them in the center of the arena.

It begins again.

Reprinted from The New York Times.

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14 Responses to The Boss and D’Arch

  1. TOfan says:

    {{{happy}}} Thanks for sharing this article. So much good stuff, I esp. liked this:

    “I do believe his narrative tone, the mental map, has worked its way into my head, influencing the way I organize the buzzing confusion of reality, shaping the unconscious categories through which I perceive events.”

    I like Springsteen’s music but I’ve never been to one of his shows … I now think I need to … for the sake of my education. 🙂

  2. bluebar says:

    Not a fan of Springsteen, but I do like many of his songs. He comes from my home state and has played in my city from time to time.
    After reading this article, I may have to join with TOfan and take in a show.

    One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that my impression of an artist always heightens in a good way whenever I have seen that person live on stage rather than just from the radio, TV or an album..
    David is the “creme de la creme,” of course, but I have really appreciated and respected the immense talents of Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Tom Jones and Michael Jackson. so much more after seeing each of their shows (more than once!).

    So why not make this connection with Bruce? Hope it is not too late because Springsteen and the E Street Band just ended a lengthy tour.
    From the reviews,
    http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html
    one more love fest would be magical.

  3. bluebar says:

    Also, Happy. I wanted to add that the two photos you selected for the top this page are:
    perfectamundo!!

  4. happy says:

    TOfan- you make me smile! 🙂
    I absolutely LOVE
    “The knowledge transmitted in an emotional education, on the other hand, comes indirectly, seeping through the cracks of the windowpanes, from under the floorboards and through the vents. It’s generally a byproduct of the search for pleasure, and the learning is indirect and unconscious.” and “In fact, we all gather our own emotional faculty — artists, friends, family and teams. Each refines and develops the inner instrument with a million strings.”
    I read this and thought of D’Arch and us. For me, David is not a singular experience in my emotional or music experience but rather another elegant shade on my pallet (will I be reprimanded for the mixed metaphor?) But what they all have in common for me is the ability to “seep into the cracks,” enter, and transport me, if even for a moment. Each one “refines and develops (my) inner instrument with a million strings.”
    Bluebar- I completely agree with you in that experiencing music live is vastly different from experiencing recorded music. This privilege is one that I can never get enough of but which I cannot afford to enjoy nearly as often as I would like. 🙂 Also- TOfan chose the pictures for me… TOfan rocks….. and let’s all rock together the next time Springsteen plays NJ!

  5. ninaf says:

    Happy – fantastic article – you always have a way of pointing out great articles and pieces. I’ve never seen Bruce live, and now I feel I must!!!….BTW – I miss you!!

  6. TOfan says:

    Bluebar & Happy, yes, let’s all rock to Bruce … he comes to T.O. a lot, eh! 🙂

    This part also reminded me of the David experience (ha, sounds like a new ride at Canada’s Wonderland, lol):
    “Once I got a taste of that emotional uplift, I was hooked. The uplifting experiences alone were bound to open the mind for learning.”

    And yes, Happy, those uplifting experiences def. include all the wonderful fan “artists, friends, family and teams” I’ve met along the way! 🙂

    … speaking of, hey, ninaf!!! *waves*

  7. ninaf says:

    Hi Tofan – this has been a very looong winter without new DA music and without meeting up with my DA friends. Here’s to hoping for new tours & music in the upcoming months!

    On another note….is anyone going to the James Taylor & Carol King tour? I got tickets for their concert in Philly in June. I know it’s not David, but it’s certainly another musical experience I will wholly enjoy!!

  8. happy says:

    NINAF!!!!!!!! I miss you too…. so let’s “do lunch” now that spring has sprung! 🙂

  9. janey says:

    Bruce was THE guy, for decades. and i’ve been to maybe 5-6 (?) concerts, (lol, not sure!) of his…. he WAS the only guy i listened to on repeat, the only guy that i knew every lyric he ever wrote or sang. the only artist i ever cared about.

    but not anymore.

  10. comolaflor says:

    Wow, great article. And Brooks brings up an interesting point. Were we to give the “other” education, our emotional education, more time we might be a totally different civilization.

  11. janey says:

    i remember reading a while back that Bruce’s daughter wanted to meet David and she got to go backstage with her dad at the MSG Jingle Ball over a year ago. i wish i had a pic of that. *goes to google search, images*

  12. barbs says:

    Had to de-lurk for this one. I finally put the original “We are the World” side by side with “Somos el Mundo.” Guess whose part David sings first?
    Oh, and David’s last part is Ray Charles’.

  13. TOfan says:

    Ninaf,
    I was about to get tix for the Carole King/James Taylor show but the last time I spent big bucks on a non-David concert, I had to give away the tickets because of a conflict with you-know-who. Hmmm *runs to see if there are any left*

    comolaflor, so true, our society would be very different, indeed. Our “emotional education” … love that.

    Janey, I hadn’t heard that … if you do find any Boss/D’Arch Jingle Ball pics, be sure to let us know!!! 🙂

    barbs,
    so glad you de-lurked!!! lol That is so interesting! Springsteen & Ray Charles, a nice combo of rock and soul … how perfect for David!

    And speaking of Somos, here is a longer vid from “The Making of Somos El Mundo” from archiedorable (David at 1:28, 2:22, 3:46 🙂 ):

  14. TOfan says:

    Off-topic:

    A fascinating article from Billboard.com on the pitfalls of the new 360-degree recording contracts (which David, as a new artist, was likely required to sign):

    “Buyer Beware: Why Artists Should Do A 180 On ‘360’ Deals”

    And from @utblaze on Twitter:

    We’re excited to announce that David Archuleta will provide half-time entertainment at the season opener on April 9!

    Utah Blaze is a football team … who knew? 😆

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