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Springsteen;Bruce VH1 Storytel

4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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If you'd rather hear Bruce Springsteen talk than sing or play, then this edition of VH-1 Storytellers is for you. That's not just faint praise. While it's obviously his music that has made his marathon concerts legendary, Springsteen is also a gifted raconteur; "storyteller" applies to no one if not to him. That's the case here, as he is effortlessly funny and wise, humble and self-deprecating, yet still the ineffably iconic Boss. Drawing from the full breadth of his immense catalogue, from early faves like "Blinded by the Light" (referring to Manfred Mann's hit version, he muses about how the British group managed to turn "deuce" into "douche") and "Thunder Road" to several tunes from his 2005 album Devils & Dust, Springsteen dissects his songs line by line, explaining how the music fuels, informs, and complements the lyrics. The insights are often fascinating, as is the reminder that he has always had the knack for taking any subject, be it personal or political, and expressing it in the simple poetry of the common man. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that he performs just eight songs, including two on piano, and that the actual music occupies less than forty minutes of this more than two hour show (counting the Q & A session with the fans). So if it's Bruce's music that you want, check out one of his several excellent concerts or video collections. Heck, the man himself seems to recognize that talking about his songs is somehow superfluous when, after going into great detail about the meaning of and motivation behind the Devils & Dust title song, he says, "How much of this was I thinking about when I wrote the song? None of it. How much of it was I feeling? All of it." --Sam Graham

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only for the real fans.... Dec 3 2005
By A Customer
If you are a casual Springsteen fan, this DVD ain't for you.
Only 8 tracks in a near 2 hour DVD [under 40 minutes of actual music with the rest being Bruce explaining each track and a 15 minute Q&A between Bruce and the fans].
As well, it's just Bruce - no band - except an appearance by Patti Scialfa.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love this DVD concert May 4 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Anyone who loves Bruce will also live to spend this evening with him. Great solo performances and hearing about his creative muse is entertaining
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun dvd Aug. 21 2012
I would have prefered having more songs but hey, I'll take what I can get. He goes into a lot of detail on how he wrote both the music and lyrics for each song. If you're interesting in songwriting check this out.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is not a new release! May 8 2008
My Wife loves The Boss! I thought this being a new release, it was a new DVD. When I opened the package and looked at the cover it looked very much like the DVD I bought for her a few months back. It's the same DVD
She is going to give it to her friend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best way to tell the story is to play the music ... Sept. 5 2005
By Schattenmann - Published on Amazon.com
This DVD is the expanded and re-edited version of a show aired on VH-1 in the US in April 2005. The concept of VH1 storytellers has its problems, as Springsteen admits right at the start of his session: "Tonight, I'm gonna play a few songs and try to give you an idea about where they come from. It's kind of an iffy proposition. Talking about music is like talking about sex. Can you describe it? Are you supposed to?"

8 songs from 6 different albums are featured on this DVD. With most of them, Bruce's explanation consists in going through them again line by line and making some comments. Especially in the later part of the show, it's nice to see him getting carried away. He more or less starts really playing the song again ... Doesn't that indicate that often times, the music really speaks for itself? Or like someone said (possibly Miles Davis): Writing about music is like dancing about art.

For Springsteen fans who have been to some of his shows, particularly on the Tom Joad and D&D tours, many aspects of this show are not much of a surprise. In contradistinction to many other musicians and bands, this is a rock and roll singer who regularly talks to his audience and sometimes at length. And it has been captured on official releases before: just think of the long introduction to The River on Live 1975-85. So, on the one hand, there is not much that is new or surprising. On the other hand: it has all the excitement and joy and human touch that Springsteen fans are used to. So go and get it!
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disarmingly honest and with perceptive insights into human nature May 6 2006
By Rennie Petersen - Published on Amazon.com
Any inclination to put Bruce Springsteen into the mold of being a shallow pop performer is wiped away after watching "Bruce Springsteen - VH1 Storytellers".

"VH1 Storytellers" is a television program where singer-songwriters perform some of their songs and tell about the how and why of each song's creation. One can argue that the program is more for the education and inspiration of budding songwriters than for fans of the artists invited to participate. Still, I'm reviewing this DVD version of "Bruce Springsteen - VH1 Storytellers" as a fan, not as an aspiring songwriter.

In this program Bruce sings eight songs, accompanying himself on guitar or piano. No band. On "Brilliant Disguise" he invites his wife Patti Scialfa to sing backup, but otherwise he is alone on the stage.

Between the songs Bruce tells the story behind each song. This results in about 40 minutes of music and 56 minutes of talk, at least for the PAL version of the DVD. (Timing may be a bit different on the NTSC version.)

Bruce's discussion of his songwriting is very enjoyable, even confidence-inspiring. He comes across as a disarmingly honest person with perceptive insights into human nature. I found myself liking him a lot, much more than I had expected, having my prejudices regarding what show business and success does to people.

For example, Bruce mentions that he wrote up a lot of notes in preparation for this program. He then quips that on reviewing the notes he thought they made him sound very self-centered, and figured that for that purpose he didn't need notes!

And when discussing "Thunder Road", he dissects the line, "I got this guitar and I've learned how to make it talk." His verdict: "Probably the hokiest line I ever wrote - and I've written a few of them, let me tell you!"

Bruce presents both serious songs and fun songs. The serious songs are followed up by serious discussions of personal ideals vs. politics and reality, the influence of religion (his Catholic background) on his songwriting, and the multiple personalities that we each present depending on the situation. All of which I found fascinating - I was impressed by his understanding and his modesty.

Following the main program there is a 16-minute question and answer session. This too was very interesting, with Bruce talking about his feelings and motives as a songwriter. For example, when asked about "Devils and Dust", he mentions that he has a couple of boys who are 14 years old, so a parent's concern about his child going off to war has become relevant for him.

A few final notes about the DVD itself. As mentioned above, for the PAL version the program is 96 minutes and the Q&A session is 16 minutes, for a total of 112 minutes. Subtitles are available in Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish, but not, unfortunately, in English.

Highly recommended, even if you're not a Bruce Springsteen fan.

Rennie Petersen
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For TOTAL Bruce Fans -- or Aspiring Songwriters Nov. 6 2005
By Nicholas J. Lester - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you love Bruce and go back to the Asbury Park days, you'll love this DVD. Bruce's sense of humor and raw honesty make this so enjoyable for fans. And if you're a musician (or even ex-musician like me) his insights into composing songs are worth the $12.

Bruce took his task of "decoding" his lyrics seriously -- bringing with him a book of notes to which he continually refers. He reminded me of a very hip college professor who is in love with his topic.

The performances themselves are OK, nothing special, but certainly up to Bruce's high standard (in most cases). Sure, he's older (aren't we all?) and it's slightly disappointing to see R&R's most dynamic and honest performer grow slower. So if you can't or don't remember the original Bruce, get one of his earlier DVD performances (but not the Barcelona DVD, it's awful) and definitely pick up "Darkness on the Edge of Town" to get the man at his most powerful. (To really understand the power of his songs and performances get the anniversary edition of Born To Run, which includes a DVD performance of Bruce and the ESB during their first UK tour.)

My daughter knows nothing of early Bruce. She saw this DVD and wondered why so many people love Bruce (yet she loves Dylan's "Unplugged" and Don Henley's "Live", so she has a lot of taste for a 16-year-old). I can see her point. If you don't know Bruce's body of work and can't see this DVD as just a small part of his career, this DVD will disappoint.

But for long-term fans, I highly recommend it.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thank you bruce! Sept. 10 2005
By W. Laroche - Published on Amazon.com
I am so glad Bruce put this out. While I loved the VH1 storytellers there is really no comparison. This has great sound and it makes the show on vh1 just an appetizer. The format is much better and the full explanations from Bruce much nicer to have instead of the chopped up ones and the question and answer period is wonderful. Bruce does talk to his fans in many many ways and we miss some of the long raps he would do at shows until about 88 or so. He definitely talks to us now and there are interviews now that didn't use to happen as often but this is just classic Bruce and how he thinks, performs and talks. GET IT!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expert Storylteller not Just in His Music, but in Explanations Jan. 20 2013
By KIDTEACH - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am a diehard, long term fan and have always known he is a prolific storyteller via his lyrics. I have also known that he is very engaging, personable and down to Earth. All of these things were reinforced a zillion times over when I watched this. He is a fascinating individual...eloquent in his explanations yet simple, full of humor, self-deprecation...it all works. He clearly loves what he does and knows he has IT, yet doesn't revel in it or flash it around. He sees himself as on a mission to unite us, to enlighten, to give voice to our collective needs, thoughts and struggles. When he accepted the Oscar for best song..Streets of Philadelphia...he said, "The purpose of music is to help everyone see through our veils of differences, to embrace each other for who we are and I hope that I have done my job in this manner". I once heard him say that "he melds his voice to the story he is telling and when a moment comes in our common history, I want to be there". He has been for 40 years and I hope he will be for many, many more to come. We will ALL be the better for it.
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