THE TIME THAT WAS… 2015

A wrap of – of 2015 from Board Member Kevin Farrell… with special thanks to Backstreets.com for allowing the reprint…

THE TIME THAT WAS… 2015
With 2015 now a wrap, just about everyone and everything has a Top Ten list. We already know that 2016 will be a very busy year for Bruce news; but despite no actual tour, 2015 also had its fair share of interesting moments. Looking back through our News Archives from the past year, we’ve compiled the top stories for 2015, with relevant dates so you can peruse the News Archives and/or Setlist pages for further details. So here you go, in no particular order…. Max, drum roll please:

1. Down to The River
The long awaited, multi-disc River box set, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection, is announced on October 16, the eve of the 35th anniversary of the release of the double album.

Before the release, Thom Zimny premieres The Ties That Bind documentary at the DOC NYC film festival on November 14. On November 17, Thom brings the documentary and a one-hour cut of Tempe 1980 to New Jersey, screening both films in front of a packed house at Monmouth University’s Pollack Theatre (presented by The Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, along with Backstreets and Monmouth University). On November 27, a larger population of fans get a preview of the box set as HBO broadcasts the television premiere of the documentary; on December 2, E Street Radio premieres The River Outtakes in a special evening edition of Live From E Street Nation.  The box set is officially released on December 4.

2. Into the River Tour We Dive
On December 4, Bruce and the E Street Band announce 24 live dates to celebrate The Ties That Bind. The tour focuses on 21 US cities with one stop in Canada. The announcement also notes: “Each night of the tour will be mixed for release on live.brucespringsteen.net as high-quality downloads and CDs. Recordings will be available within days of each performance.”

On December 7, Bruce announces that the entire River album will be played in sequence at each of the announced 2016 shows. (The full River album has been performed only once in concert to date, on November 8, 2009 at Madison Square Garden.) Tickets for the 2016 concerts go on sale on December 11, many of them selling out in a matter of minutes. Frustrated fans, the media and government officials question the ticket selling process.

3. Seaside Bar Song
Bruce joins Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, along with special guest Ed Manion, for a surprise two-hour-plus show at The Wonder Bar on July 18. The 15-song set is performed in front a packed house, as word leaks quickly after the soundcheck. A large crowd of fans who were not able to get into the club listen to the show on the streets of Asbury Park outside the iconic Jersey Shore bar. This was only the third time Springsteen has played the Asbury Park landmark.

4. Just Around the Corner
Springsteen makes his 11th unannounced appearance at the annual Light of Day benefit, at the 2015 finale at Asbury Park’s Paramount Theater on January 17. Bruce performs with Willie Nile, La Bamba and Southside Johnny, before hitting the stage for a solo “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart,” followed by a 14-song set with Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. The show ends with Bruce leading a sing along with all the LOD artists, and the packed house, on “Thunder Road” and “The Promised Land.”

5. Where the Bands Are
During the summer, Springsteen makes a number of surprise guest appearances, mostly along the Jersey Shore:

  • On July 1, Bruce joins Brian Wilson at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ for the encore and sings backing vocals on two songs, “Barbara Ann” and “Surfin’ USA,” strapping on a guitar as well for the latter.
  • On July 31,  Bruce joins U2 on stage at Madison Square Garden for two songs, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Stand By Me.”
  • The very next night, August 1, Bruce makes another appearance at The Wonder Bar and sits in with Timepiece for a series of classic covers.
  • On the eve of his 66th birthday, September 22, Bruce surprises the crowd at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ,  by joining old friend Jackson Browne for the last two songs of the night, “Take It Easy” and “Our Lady of the Well.”

6. 57 Channels
Bruce appears on several late night tellyvision shows during the year:

  • On August 6, Bruce and the E Street Band appear on The Daily Show for a final farewell to his buddy and New Jersey compatriot Jon Stewart, with a rousing rendition of “Land of Hope and Dreams.”That segues into “Born to Run,”with the entire Daily Show crew joining the band on stage.
  • On December 17, Bruce makes a guest appearance (no musical performance) on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to promote the Ties That Bind box set and discuss the upcoming tour.
  • On December 19, we get a glimpse of the upcoming tour as Bruce and the E Street Band perform “Meet Me in the City” and “The Ties That Bind” on Saturday Night Live.  As the credits roll, the band plays “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” as the entire SNL cast comes to the stage along with a surprise guest, Paul McCartney.

7. A Good Man is Not Hard to Find
Springsteen appears at a number of charitable events throughout 2015:

  • On February 6, Bruce performs at the MusiCares tribute to Bob Dylan. Joined by recent E Street Band member Tom Morello, he performs “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
  • On May 18, Bruce has a mini-reunion with members of the Sessions Band at the Kristen Ann Carr Fund’s “A Night to Remember,” and they revisit four tracks: “Pay Me My Money Down,” “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” “Jesse James,” and “My Oklahoma Home.”
  • On May 28, Bruce presents Pete Townshend with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit  and performs “My Generation” with The Who, and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”with The Who, Billy Idol, and Willie Nile.
  • On November 10, Bruce performs for the ninth consecutive year at the Stand Up For Heroes benefit, playing a four-song acoustic set, adding a few requisite dirty jokes, and raising nearly $1 million for the Bob Woodruff Foundation during the night’s auction.
  • On November 18, Bruce performs “American Skin (41 Shots)” with John Legend (supported by Roy Bittan, Tom Morello, and Max Weinberg)at Shining A Light, A Concert For Progress on Race in America.
  • On January 8, Bruce is honored at, but does not attend, the First Annual Lincoln Awards: A Concert for Veterans and the Military Family. Springsteen is the first to be honored in the Entertainer category, recognizing outstanding achievement and excellence in supporting and giving back to veterans as a performer.

8.  Thanks For Comin’ Down to the Show
Over the course of the year, Springsteen’s Live Archive series releases downloadable versions of these classic shows:

  • The Tower Theater, 12/31/75
  • Nassau Coliseum, 12/31/80
  • Brendan Byrne Arena, 8/5/84
  • LA Sports Arena, 4/23/88
  • Value City Theater, Columbus, 7/31/2005
  • Ippodromo delle Capannelle, Rome 7/11/2013
  • and a special Christmas eve gift, the 10 songs from the Tempe 1980 show that did not make it into the River box set’s concert film.

9.  We Get to That Place We Really Wanted to Go
Born to Run turns 40 on August 25 and the anniversary is widely celebrated in the media.

E St Radio celebrates the 40th anniversary with a week of special programming highlighted by a 3 hour special dedicated to the album. This special BTR40 program offers specially selected live versions of every track from Born to Run, as well as some of the album’s outtakes, interspersed with reflections and reminiscences from a variety of contributors.

Backstreets celebrates the anniversary with numerous posts throughout the summer and into the fall, including new interviews with Born to Run co-producer Mike Appel.

Backstreets also spearheads the creation of an official Born to Run 40th Anniversary poster to benefit WhyHunger, also celebrating 40 years in 2015. The 24″ x 40″ poster, overseen by photographer Eric Meola and current Columbia art director Dave Bett, reproduces the classic album cover in crisp detail, upsized 150% and is still available from Backstreet Records.

10.  We Have a Call from “Bruce from New Jersey”
On December 9, Bruce calls into Live From E Street Nation and speaks with Dave Marsh and Thom Zimn, revealing a solo project in the works that’s being bumped by the River box set and 2016 tour.

On December 10, Bruce continues his holiday phone calls and speaks with Backstreets editor Chris Phillips. “Many Rivers to Cross: The Backstreets Interview” is Phillips and Backstreets’ third-ever interview withSpringsteen.

During the conversation, Springsteen touches again on the solo project, gives some hope to fans in cities other than the 22 on the schedule, reflects on his historical reluctance to document his concerts, and discusses what he loves about playing albums in their entirety. In the case of the upcoming River performances:

“I think it’s going to be a relief to a certain extent! I mean, usually up there, I’m a third or two-thirds through the song, and my mind is already going, okay, what am I gonna play next? I enjoy doing that — and my band does that better than anybody out there — but it’ll be fun playing music like it’s a little opera or a little play. It’ll be enjoyable to do that. I’m looking forward to it.”

Honorable mention:

  • Southside Johnny’s Prove It All Night: The Music of Bruce Springsteen at the Stone Pony on February 28
  • Rich Russo’s final tour of The Upstage Club on March 27
  • Darlene Love’s record release event at the Paramount Theater on September 12… Bruce contributed two songs to the Stevie Van Zandt-produced album, Introducing Darlene Love. 
  • The opening of the photography exhibit Bruce Springsteen: A Photographic Journey at Monmouth University on September 27
  • Barbara Pyle’s book of photography, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 1975, published by Reel Art Press on November 23

– January 2, 2016 – Kevin Farrell reporting