Why Bruce Springsteen is The Boss

Bruce SpringsteenHello,

It’s all about The Boss today.

The legend that is Bruce Springsteen grew in Austin yesterday.  He made an impromptu look-in at Austin Music Awards, delivered his keynote at SXSW (well worth reading), and then did one of his marathon gigs at night.

What’s worth quoting here is that The Boss concluded his SXSW keynote by exhorting young musicians, “Bring the noise [and] treat it like it’s all we have. And then remember it’s only rock ‘n’ roll.”  But when it’s Springsteen who is the one playing it, it’s not ‘only’ rock ‘n’ roll.  Perhaps a few fans will agree.

I think music historians will count Bruce Springsteen as one of the most sincere and authentic rockers ever; he’s a throwback to a bygone age in terms of the way he makes his music, even in the way he sings, yet he’s so rooted in the present in terms of his message and his relevance.  He doesn’t need, doesn’t want, those image makers and PR people who package and script the artiste.

Springsteen has been a rocker with a social message, never more so than now.  Among the influences he has claimed are Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.  They are quite overt in “Wrecking Ball” which has got ‘Social Justice’ (besides fear, anger, hope, compassion) written all over it.  Not only that, the album is peppered with rhythms and sounds that are best described as ‘Folk Rock’.  You can play it while you and your buddies play cards and get a pizza, you can dance and groove to it with your girl, you can clap your hands to it, you can listen to it as a long lyric poem, you can drink Jack Daniels to it, and, if you’re into pot, I guess you can smoke pot to it.  (Remember to get or listen to the 13-track release; it closes with a delightful Irish jig about the melting pot that is the ‘American Land’.)

Though Springsteen’s The Boss, one must not forget to give his fantastic, all-pro sidemen their props.  I don’t know which edition of E Street this one is, but, boys and girls, “You’ve Got It” – it’s when we listen to you that we feel “We Are Alive.”

‘Wrecking Ball’s overall tone of social justice, the suggestion that the wealthy and the powerful use and then throw away their countrymen as if they’re disposable plastic razors, brings to mind the post-Great War song that had become so popular in the 1920s: ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime’.  Now, ‘Wrecking Ball’ is catching and reflecting the mood of a nation – perhaps many nations?  Let’s see, it’s early days yet.

Yahoo News subtitled their story on Springsteen’s masterclass at SXSW, “They call him The Boss for a reason.”  Yahoo got that hopelessly wrong.  Bruce Springsteen is not ‘The Boss’ for a reason.  He is ‘The Boss’ for a thousand reasons.



From the SXSW to DC; Lionel to Legend

Howdy Folks!

An apt way to greet y’all today ’cause we’re talkin’ Texas.  That’s because the SXSW (‘South by South-West’) music festival has kicked off in Austin, Texas.  A plethora of bands – up-and-comers to established acts – will ply their trade in Austin.  It’s musical mayhem down there with a band in every bar and a party on every patio.

Yesterday, a few bands opened at one of the upscale venues for the star of the show, Lionel Richie.  He wowed the audience, both fronting a band and comping himself on the piano (the true test for a singer).  Lionel Richie, a musician’s musician, doesn’t need to hide behind a mixer or a console, or rely on overproduced tracks – he’s the real thing.  That said, I think Richie forgot he was in Texas: he said (and sang) ‘Hello’.  Lionel, that should’ve been ‘Howdy’!

On the subject of ‘real things’, another one is Bruce Springsteen.  Springsteen is also at the SXSW and is slated to keynote.  Now whaddaya know— the veteran rocker also did in the U.S. what he did in the U.K.: he stormed onto the charts.  His ‘Wrecking Ball’ debuted at no. 1 on Billboard’s album charts, ‘wrecking’ any hopes Adele may have had for setting a new Billboard record.  ’21′ has finally been bumped off the top spot.

While some top names in music are in Austin, one was at (or, more correctly, just outside) the White House yesterday, mixing and mingling with the Obamas and the Camerons – that’s the Prime Minister of the U.K. and his old lady.  Barack Obama hosted a State Dinner for his counterpart from the U.K. at the White House Lawn.  Mumford & Sons, a little-known British band, was present to open for the headline act; apparently the Camerons’ taste runs to this band, which sounds more like a grain merchant in some village in Olde England.  The headliner was John Legend, who came with arm-candy Chrissy Teigen in tow.  It appears Legend was left alone to do his thing – unlike three weeks back, the President did not pick up the mic.  Perhaps he’s already got a record deal!

See ya,


Ladies Night at the Lyrster!

Hello out there,

It’s ladies night at the Lyrster!

A news item has it that Rihanna suffered a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ in New York.  The poor chump who wrote the item is totally out of it.  You see, when Rihanna suffers a so-called ‘wardrobe malfunction’, then her wardrobe is functioning properly!  It’s when she does not have what one would consider a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ that her wardrobe is . . . malfunctioning!  Don’t forget just who we’re talking about.

On the other coast, Miley Cyrus reported on duty at The Hunger Games in what is said to be a “midriff-baring outfit.”  Her two-piece black lace outfit is kinda confusing.  Is that a dress or is that lingerie?  It’s an in-between sarong-and-bodice combo, that’s what it is!  Let’s be honest: Miley has a peaches-and-cream complexion and that girl next door look so to see her vamp it up is like, is like . . . well, like seeing Rihanna in a nun’s habit!  What time does the belly-dancing show begin, Miley?

Is Katy Perry going the way of Madonna?  The pre-release sample of “Dressin’ Up” gives a clue.  The oversynthesized generic dance club track just doesn’t deliver.  Isn’t Perry supposed to be a country singer or rock singer?  If so, she should be commended to her 50s Capitol label-mate, Wanda Jackson.  Now that was a true blue rock ‘n’ roll singer and country singer, and, boy, did she have some pipes!  Katy, forget Madonna and let’s see if you can sing like Wanda.

Let’s close with a female singer who’s just unreal.  Meet Japanese pop sensation Hatsune Miku.  Her concerts in Japan are not only packed to the rafters, they’re shown in cinemas out in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and fans even fly to Japan from other countries to attend her concerts.  Problem is that Miku is really ‘unreal’ – she doesn’t exist!  It’s a computer-generated singing programme whose songs and singing are controlled by her ‘fans’.  It’s a Brave New World in Japan.

So, to wrap up, we have Rihanna and Miley having adventures with wardrobes, the former upto her usual, the latter, something unusual.  And we have Katy Perry as Madonna, and Hatsune Miku as . . . well, nothing!  Which one’s to your taste, fellows?



The Boss and The Beib

Hello All,

Back in Old Blighty we sure love our ‘golden oldies’ – some days back I had written about old men Engelbert and Tom Jones making headlines once again.  Now witness Bruce Springsteen, who was ‘Bossing’ it in America back in the 80s, beating out all competition to rule the roost on the U.K. album charts!  Springsteen ‘Wrecking Ball’ album is no. 1 in U.K.  Not bad, Boss – and not bad, Britishers too!  You’ve got taste, for Springsteen is as genuine a rocker as they come.

But you can’t say the same about everyone.  Here in the States Billboard seems to be going ‘mad’ about Mad-onna’s ‘MDNA’ album.  (Why are you trying to hype and push it, Billboard?)  I sampled a few tracks and it’s just more of the same – overproduced, synthetic, generic dance-club tracks under the ‘Madonna’ brand-name, quasi-sung in that insubstantial, thin and reedy voice we all know and love so well.  Nothing new, nothing artistic here.  How this juggernaut keeps rolling on and on escapes me.  Credit the image-makers and PR people – they can sell anything!

Something far more engaging and authentic is Fun’s ‘We Are Young’ (which, in all honesty, is too dark to be mere ‘fun’).  Billboard reports that it is the first debut single by a rock band to ascend to no. 1 on the singles chart in a gazillion years.  Not by any stretch a ‘rocker’, this appealing song, driven by a heavy backbeat, sounds as if it’s influenced by 80s and 90s Euro-Pop.  It’s driving me batty because I can’t remember just who it reminds me of!  Perhaps someone will be able to make the connection and post a comment.

Looking two weeks ahead to the 26th, Justin Bieber’s ‘Boyfriend’ should land in the Top Ten – at least.  It’s the lead track from his upcoming album, ‘Believe’, which is said to be quite a departure from his earlier work, and so much so that the boy – er, man, now – himself thought it needed some justification: “You can’t really expect anything from my album. It’s really, really different. . . . I’m not trying to lose any of my young fans.”  No worries, Justin, you probably won’t – ‘Believe’ me!

Here’s an odd couple that I wouldn’t mind seeing (and hearing): Bruce and The Bieb!  How about Bruce Springstein and Justin Bieber duetting, backed by The Boss’s band?  Intriguing thought, eh?

In closing, it’s particularly apropos to refer to Britain as ‘Old Blighty’ in a music blog – ever heard ‘Take me Back to Dear Old Blighty’?

Blithely (and Blightily) Yours,


Angelina Jolie, Leg & Binbag, Inc.

Hallo Music-Mad readers,

It has long been rumoured that Ms. Angelina Jolie has designs on singing.  And a scant two months back photo and video surfaced of Jolie in the garb of a singing nun (surely the song was ‘Dominique’?).  As a result, she qualifies for our music blog!  This aspiring singer (besides being an aspiring humanitarian, aspiring director, aspiring beauty queen, aspiring global spokesperson . . .) made waves recently, and is still making waves . . .

—Recall that at the Oscars, Angelina Jolie, desperate to show off her legs and regretting that she had not worn a swimsuit, decided to pull a Demi Moore.  Problem is that she did so by striking an unnatural pose that is sometimes struck at Mr. Universe contests and was reminiscent of John Travolta in his cheesier days – remember that poster of ‘Saturday Night Fever’?  Jolie’s (in)famous gown-and-leg disaster has generated such aftershocks that on Friday Jolie’s spokeswoman felt compelled to issue a statement.  Some parts of said statement are in need of clarification or correction that we have not seen anywhere else, so yours truly will do the honours:–

•  Angelina Jolie is considering dismissing her stylist because she “pays her stylist a lot of money to pick things that will make her [Jolie] look drop-dead gorgeous but she felt . . . she had to stick her leg or it looked like she was wearing a bin bag.”

Hmm, maybe this hapless stylist told Jolie, “Now remember Ma’am, you’re wearing a ‘bin bag’ so consider striking a Mr. Universe cum John Travolta pose, okay?”

•  Jolie “felt the dress [bin-bag] swallowed her up.”

We only wish!  Maybe someday . . .

•  “Now [Jolie's] being laughed at . . .”

The ‘now’ is superfluous.

•  Jolie “is worried her reputation may have taken a hit.”

Not ‘may’ – and what ‘reputation’?

•  “[Jolie] is just hoping the next time she’s on the red carpet, she makes headlines for the right reasons.”

There’s always a first time.

•  Jolie “can’t believe that she is now the butt of everyone’s jokes.”

The spokeswoman seems to have an almighty problem with that word ‘now’ . . .


•  “Angelina [Jolie] never looks uncool – ever.”

Doesn’t all this primping, self-centredness, and me-me-me madness – specially when you’re trying to pretend you are the most caring, benevolent, magnanimous person on Earth – “look” like the most “uncool” thing “– ever”?

Dying for the days when the stars were unscripted, authentic, true to themselves – where are you, Errol Flynn?  Come back, O Raquel!



‘Replay’ that ‘Golden Oldie’!

Hiya Kids!

You’re probably in your teens or twenties, to be visiting lyrster.com.  By the time you’re done reading today’s post, you’ll wish you were in your . . . seventies!

A common thread has run through three of my posts over the past week.  Call it the ‘golden thread’; ‘golden’ as in ‘golden years’.  Let’s recap.

Tom ‘The Voice’ Jones, all of 70-plus, has launched a music talent show in conjunction with the BBC.  With his transatlantic star power (TJ was a really big Vegas act), it’s quite possible that Jones’s talent show could rival ‘American Idol’ and the like.  Tom has also gone and tweaked Simon Cowell’s nose in the bargain.

His peer, Engelbert Humperdinck, has been selected (BBC involved here too!) to represent the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest.  Instead of heading to a nursing home at age 75, he’ll be headed to Baku, Azerbaijan for Eurovision.  Engelbert, get there and win it pronto!  Or should I say “win it ‘quando, quando, quando’?”

Russia has hopped on the old folks bandwagon – the country’s got a bunch of grannies representing it at Eurovision!  The singing ‘Buranovo Grannies’, hailing from a remote Russian province, comprise of honest-to-goodness grandmothers with an average age of 75!

As reported earlier, those geriatric Rolling Stones have just published a glitzy picture book to commemorate their one-hundredth year in the Music Biz.  (OK, a slight exaggeration there.)  Not to be outdone, Sir Cliff Richard (who still holds a few British music records) has published a calendar showing himself off in his ‘Studly Seventies’.  The calendar turned into a monster seller in Australia and New Zealand.  I’m sure it posted good numbers in the British Isles as well.

(Though Cliff reinvented himself early in his career as an Easy Listening type quasi-crooner, courtesy of mentor Norrie Paramor, initially he was a true blue rocker who laid down some superb rock ‘n’ roll tracks that still stand up well.  His rock ‘n’ roll numbers are so little known now that even EMI missed a trick or two when it put out its “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years” box set a decade back.)

And what do we have now?  Well, five of Billboard’s Top 40 music-biz earners of 2010 are senior citizens!  Take a bow, Elton John, at no. 33 with $7.2 million raked in.  Ahead of him is Cher at no. 22 with $9.6 million.  Breaking into eight figures with $10.2 million is Eric Clapton at no. 20.  Clapton’s late friend George Harrison’s bandmate Paul McCartney is at no. 10, taking in $14.2 million.  And Eagles are the senior citizen champs at no. 8, having pulled in $18.3 million.  Most of them have netted a significant amount at live shows.  Though most of the others are young ‘uns, keep in mind that these five golden oldies have beaten out many popular singers and bands less than half their age!

Man, as someone on the fringes of the Music Biz I can’t wait until I get into my 70s!  Then I’ll get a talent show of my own, get to release lush picture books and calendars, rake in the money on tours, and get to sing at Eurovision.  ‘Geriatry’, here I come!

Yours Agefully,


America, are you ready for a Musical ‘Multicultural Invasion’?

Good Morning America (and the rest of the world),

In the 60s the American musical scene experienced a ‘British Invasion’ with The Beatles – of course – as the leaders of the war party.  Then, America retreated to its familiar, insular ways with music (as in everything else), shutting out non-Americans.  It seems like that’s about to change!  Are you braced for a musical ‘Multicultural Invasion’?

Trouble’s been brewing between India and America for a few months.  It seems that ‘Bollywood’, India’s gigantic and pullulating, though rather primitive, movie industry has long been planning an assault on the entertainment world’s promised land.  As a result, informants, spies and agents in America have been trying to sign and sell Indian singer-dancers for an American audience.  Deals, contracts, off-labels – the scene is a whirl of frenzied activity with one goal in mind: the conquest of America by those singing and dancing voluptuous vixens.  Amazingly, at least one of the Big Three in Hollywood (CAA, ICM, and Morris) is signing music deals for gals from India who . . . can’t sing a note!  (But then, they do that with American bimbos, so why discriminate?)  Which Indian gals?  Er, discretion dictates that the ladies remain unnamed.

In a ‘Pincers Movement’, Universal is planning an all-out assault on American ears with Japanese heavy artillery.  A Japanese futuro-punk version of The Spice Girls is set to hit America.  Though in a way it already has: the group’s album ‘JPN’ has just been released on digital media.  Meet ‘Perfume’, a threesome that’s the hot, number one girl group in Japan.  Perfume does have some pedigree.  The band’s been around for twelve years and its enjoyed some success in the Far East and has moved over a million albums.  Perhaps America will soon get to see a musical duel between Bollywood’s singing sirens and the sweet-smelling Japanese gals.

But, America, don’t feel too put-out about all this – you’ve got company!  The European musical scene is about to be invaded by Russians!  Hailing from the remote Udmurtia Republic and singing folk songs primarily in local dialect, a group of ladies has set its eyes on winning Europe’s ultimate musical prize – the Eurovision Song Contest.  The kicker: the name of the group is ‘Buranovo Grannies’ . . . because they are grannies in their 70s!  Makes quite a pun on that musical term ‘golden oldies’, eh?

Namaste, Arigato, and – oh heck, I don’t know any Russian!



Tom Jones vs. Simon Cowell

Howdy Folks,

Well, well, well, what do we have here?  Simon Cowell is known to be pretty blunt-spoken and often insulting.  Now it looks like he’s got a dose of his own medicine, courtesy of ‘The Voice’; that Welshman who made the gals go nuts when he sang ‘She’s a Lady’, ‘Just Help Yourself’, ‘Thunderball’, and – of course – ‘Delilah’.  Tom Jones, who has launched a talent discovery show of his own, dissed X Factor’s judges.  Let’s see what he said: X Factor judges “don’t have the experience” and “wouldn’t be able to sing a note,” and he “got fed up” because of the “questionable” judging.  Hmm, naughty, naughty.  Cowell is said to have been shaken up by the attack and has made a half-hearted counter-attack.  Tom’s leading on points in this music biz spat!

A once-troubled teen will pen an autobiography about the travails and tribulations she went through until she had a baby.  She’ll cover drug abuse and addiction to the extent of trying to take her own life.  This tale of a dark saga of hopelessness that somehow finds a ray of hope is set for publication in September.  And how does it related to lyrster’s music news blog?  Meet, Pattie Mallette, the mommy of none other than teen-bopper Justin Bieber!  I do suspect that a whole lot of starry-eyed sweet sixteens will be queueing up to buy the book and get it signed by what they hope will be their . . . prospective mother-in-law!

An update re the Billboard charts from what we reported last time around: Would you believe Whitney Houston still has three albums in the Top Ten?  Believe it!  After a long time staying strong and getting stronger, Kelly Clarkson’s hit ‘Stronger’ has finally got a wee bit weaker, dropping one position to no. 3.  As for Adele’s ’21′, it’s still at no. 1 for a 23rd straight week and looks on course to match a record for 24 weeks at no. 1 – that was set more than 25 years back!

Alicia Keys, is it final then?  So you’ve become a society dame— mugging with diamonds, doing glam shoots and schmoozing with Sir Paul?  Er, didn’t there use to be something called ‘singing’ in your life once?  Decisions, decisions . . .

Take it easy,



Go Gaga, Go … Gaga Be Good!


A couple of hours back I read that The Gaga One has surpassed twenty million followers on Twitter.  I said to myself “Go, Gaga Go, Go!” – and ended up writing a lyric.  Just sing it to Chuck Berry’s rock ‘n’ roll classic Johnny B. Goode – the metre, stresses and all will come out just fine.

(BTW yours truly had the unforgettable pleasure of experiencing Chuck Berry many years back in Washington D.C. at ‘Fight Night – Fight for Children’ – and he was still awesome, really awesome.)


Gaga Be Good

Copyright © Kersasp ‘Kersie’ Shekhdar and Lyrster.com 2012, All Rights Reserved


Twenty-few years back there flew a screw-loose stork,
Dropped a baby bundle on a shack in New York;
Became a kooky gal who could never be good,
She spent a lot of time in the big bad ‘hood;
She never ever learned to strum a guitar lick,
But she did have a voice that was rich and so thick;

Go go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Gaga be good.

She used to sing and scream until the clock struck late,
Wail and yowl her heart out at that Village Gate,
All the record execs see’d her shakin’ on stage,
She’d make ‘em feel that they were but half of their age!
The guys passing by oh they would stop and stare,
Say: “What a sexy chick, I wanna see her bare!”

Go go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Gaga be good.

Her mommy told her “Lissen to me, crazy critter,
You will be the leader on that website, Twitter,
Twenty million people – now that’s quite a crowd –
Will see your every tweet, they’ll read it out loud;
Surely someday ev’ry boy will have you in sight,
And cry, ‘My Gaga be nude – tonight!’”

Go go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Go Gaga go
Gaga be good.

Gaga be good?  Nah – ain’t never gonna happen!

Creatively Yours,


A Monday Medley

Hello out there,

Another week and another Mixed-Bag Monday for us.

The breaking news of the minute has to do with none other than that ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson.  The Jackson Estate and Sony Music had cut a deal worth a quarter-billion dollars to release up to ten albums worth of unreleased songs and outtakes.  In a ‘Thriller’ of a criminal case in England, it was revealed that some unknown quantity of Jackson’s music had been stolen from Sony’s computer systems.  The theft is alleged to be as large as tens of thousands of files.  Why, oh why are these hackers doing all this?  Well, we all love Jacko, so they . . . Won’t Stop Till We Get Enough!

Is it just me or is Electro-Pop getting nostalgic for the good old days and getting retro?  Sky Ferreira, who made a bit of a splash last year and then vanished, is all set to make a splash again.  She has just released ‘Lost in My Bedroom’, a jazz-inflected and pretty well performed and produced track from what will be her debut album, ‘Wild at Heart’.  Here’s the thing, though: a bass riff in Bedroom is strangely reminiscent of the well-known and humourous bass lick from ‘Son of My Father’, Chicory Tip’s hit from 1972 . . . when Sky’s parents were little kids!

Talk about guitar licks, only a few days back I talked about how the Beatles and Apple have ‘Come Together’ in two ways: We have the Complete Remastered Beatles on iTunes and a tasty assortment of The Fab Four’s no. 1 hits as ringtones.  Now, the Beatles-Apple combo have made it a hat-trick!  Guitarists who’re reading this post will be interested to learn that Guitar World’s ‘Lick of the Day’ have introduced two ‘lick packs’ with the Beatles’ guitar thrums.  These packs are playable using LickOfTheDay app, available at the iTunes store, on iPod touch, iPhone or iPad.  The licks are demonstrated by ‘name’ guitarists.  The app also displays staves and notes, and provides further info.

Our time’s biggest musical name – MJ – and our parents’ era’s most famous band – The Beatles – sandwiching a near-unknown who just might be on square one to fame and fortune.  Not bad for a Monday, eh?

Give ’em all a listen on your iPods,