Before we move into summaries of the 65th birthday events, we’d like to thank you, our “friends” and members for your overwhelming support at our birthday events this year. Whether you were physically with us or were just with us in spirit, your enthusiasm for all things “Friends” and Bruce Springsteen makes our little world a better place. Special thanks to Monmouth University, the home of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, for co-sponsoring the events and for its continuing support of the Friends’ efforts. So, on behalf of the Board, a sincere thank you – and start planning for a trip to “the Swamps of Jersey” next year!
A Conversation with Thom Zimny – September 23, 2014
The Friends were fortunate to host director and archivist Thom Zimny for a conversation about his collaboration with Springsteen on Sept. 23, 2014 at Monmouth University, an event that benefitted the Friends’ group as well as celebrated Springsteen’s 65th birthday.
The event, “An Evening With Thom Zimny,” was a rare treat for more than 300 Springsteen fans in attendance. Zimny gave the crowd first-ever peeks at video footage from Springsteen’s personal archive shown on the big screen using the Pollak Theatre’s state-of-the-art sound system. For more than a decade, Zimny has collaborated with Springsteen on a series of films including “Wings to Wheels: The Making of ‘Born To Run,’” which won a Grammy he shares with Springsteen.
Zimny began with a clip from 1976 or 1977 that he happened upon just two months ago featuring an early E Street band singing “Happy Birthday” to Springsteen complete with a cake in the shape of a guitar.
In conversation with Chris Phillips, President of the Friends and Editor of Backstreets and emcee for the evening, Zimny said that his role as director, collaborator and film archivist for Springsteen “just organically happened.” It started with his work on “Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band: Live in New York City” and continued with the Born to Run 30th anniversary boxset and “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town” released in 2010. He has produced, directed and/or edited every music video, concert film and documentary that Springsteen has been involved in over the past 14 years. This summer, a music video for the song “Hunter of Invisible Game” was released with Zimny and Springsteen sharing co-directing credits.
Some of what Zimny showed was well-known to fans but great to see on a movie-theatre screen with great surround sound. “The Night of the Jersey Devil” and the “Dream, Baby, Dream” fan tribute video that was posted on Springsteen’s website at the end of the last tour are examples of this. The rareties from “The Vault” featured a 16-minute-long “New York City Serenade” with David Sancious on piano and Vini Lopez on percussion from 1973, which was immediately followed by a standing ovation for Lopez, who was in attendance.
There were two from 1975: one of Danny Federici playing accordion for Bruce; and a “Kitty’s Back” in black and white. An early version of “Raise Your Hand” from the Barry Rebo-shot practice sessions that are featured on “The Promise” video was included. Two other early highlights were “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” performed at Max’s Kansas City in 1972 and “Mountain of Love” from New Year’s Eve 1975 at the Tower Theater with the whole band except Springsteen wearing white tuxedos and top hats.
Two unseen Zimny recent edits were “The Price You Pay,” live and in color, from the concert in Cork, Ireland in 2013 showing Springsteen granting the sign request of a longtime fan named Derek who had been following Springsteen literally for the whole tour; and a pro-shot “Apollo Medley” from the Apollo Theatre with a Bob Clearmountain remix. Zimny also indulged in a big-screen showing of the recently released “Hunter of Invisible Game” video.
During the course of reflecting on each clip, Zimny confessed, “You don’t have a clue about what he is going to throw at you next” when working with Springsteen. “… With Bruce there is always a surprise.”
Zimny talked about directing Springsteen in “Jersey Devil,” the first time he actually took on a character; about collaborating with him on “Hunter” and the various interpretations and references the music video contains; and about what it’s like working as both a fan and a filmmaker.
Jane Murphy, Board Member
THE “FIFTY YEARS” FORUM – A VIDEO OVERVIEW
As “An Evening with Thom Zimny” demonstrated so powerfully, film and video can be storytelling media just as effective as words, and often more effective. With that in mind, we are pleased to provide links to some excellent brief video documentaries about our September 20, 2014 forum, Fifty Years of “Makin’ This Guitar Talk.” These mini-documentaries were produced by our friends at Monmouth University, which houses The Bruce Springsteen Special Collection and co-sponsored this forum with us.
The forum celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s first major steps towards becoming a lifelong musician in the summer of 1964 (as related on pages 22-24 of Peter Ames Carlin’s biography BRUCE.) Approximately 200 participants gathered to interact with an impressive lineup of authors and scholars in a series of panel-discussions on Springsteen’s music and its enduring impact . Click here for our complete archived listing of the forum’s panels, panelists and moderators.
And before watching Monmouth University’s videos, check out this officially released Springsteen video edited by Thom Zimny, with some moving words from the man himself on his fiftieth anniversary of “makin’ this guitar talk” and what it still means to him (and us) today:
Shawn Poole, Board Member and co-organizer of the birthday events