Is There Anybody Alive? (Apocalypse Sound AS122)
“The Today Show,” Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY – September 28th, 2007 (complete edit): E Street Band interview, The Promised Land, Bruce Springsteen interview, Radio Nowhere, Livin’ In The Future, Night, Last To Die (fade in), Long Walk Home, My Hometown. “VH1 Classic,” Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ – October 10th, 2007: Radio Nowhere, Night, Lonesome Day. “60 Minutes” aired on October 7th, 2007. Bonus tracks: Johnny 99 (Giants Stadium, New Jersey – August 19, 1985), Growin’ Up (Forum, Los Angeles – October 2nd, 1985)
Is There Anybody Alive? collects three recent Bruce Springsteen television appearances surrounding the release of Magic.
The first is the band’s appearance on “The Today Show” from the September 28th, 2007 broadcast. Taped from the television, this has sterling picture and sound quality and contains all the material that was broadcast. It begins at 8:00 am from Rockefeller Center in midtown with a very vocal audience who, according to Matt Lauer, began to gather the previous morning.
According to the New York Daily News, “With fans perched on balconies 10 stories up, gathered on the ground, and peering from neighboring buildings, Springsteen and the E Street Band performed six songs, some old. The fans sung nearly every word…. To accommodate the overflow crowd which stretched down parts of 48th and 49th St. and into Rockefeller Center, producers installed a huge video screen near the ice rink.”
The first part of the show is a short interview segment where both Matt and Meredith interview the members of the E Street Band, asking each member one question. Patty says her cousin is watching the kids, Weinberg says he’s in hiatus from the Conan O’Brien show, and Stevie Van Zant says they had seven rehearsals even though they needed nine.
After “The Promised Land” Lauer conducts a short interview with Bruce himself. Stating that Magic will be released next Tuesday, he asks why the new music is a throwback to an earlier era with Springsteen responding that it is “just what came around.”
Before “Livin’ In The Future” Bruce says, “I really must be desperate to be here this early in the morning. This is a song called ‘Livin’ In the Future.’ But it’s really about what’s happening now. Right now. It’s kind of about how the things we love about America, cheeseburgers, French fries, the Yankees battlin’ Boston, the Bill of Rights, v-twin motorcycles, Tim Russert’s haircut, trans-fats and the Jersey Shore… We love those things the way womenfolk love on Matt Lauer. But over the past six years we’ve had to add to the American picture: rendition, illegal wiretapping, voter suppression, no habeus corpus, the neglect of that great city New Orleans and its people, an attack on the Constitution. And the loss of our best men and women in a tragic war. This is a song about things that shouldn’t happen here happening here. So right now we plan to do something about it, we plan to sing about it. I know it’s early (in the morning), but it’s late. So come and join us.”
The other segments come from various points in the show with the final, “My Hometown,” almost two hours after the beginning.
VH1 Classic clip caped a twenty four hour Bruce Springsteen marathon. They broadcast three songs from the Izod Center in New Jersey. It begins with a short narration by Mark Goodman and proceeds to the taped “Man On The Flying Trapeze” introduction before the first thee songs of the set: “Radio Nowhere,” “Night,” and “Lonesome Day.”
This clip is taped right off of the broadcast including the VH1 logo in the lower right hand corner. Goodman does a good job at building excitement for the band and this turns out to be an exciting three song clip.
The “60 Minute” segment aired on October 7th, 2007 on the CBS network. This is taped off of the broadcast in excellent quality complete with the CBS logo in the lower left hand corner of the screen. In the introduction it is said, “It’s hard to picture, but Bruce Springsteen turned 58 last month. His breakout hit, ‘Born to Run,’ is 32 years old.
While rock stars his age are content to tour with their greatest hits, Springsteen launched, last week, what may become his most controversial work as a songwriter. Even now, Springsteen is an artist in progress, having moved from stories about girls and cars to populist ballads that echo the dust bowl days of Woody Guthrie.
Springsteen has put all that together now in his first tour with the E Street Band in four years. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, he has returned to full-throated rock and roll, and a message that’s sharper than ever, damning the war in Iraq, and questioning whether America has lost its way at home.”
The interview covers a lot of ground. Scott Pelley’s first line of questioning focuses upon the new album when he asks, “Some of the pieces in the new record are gonna be considered controversial. Give me a sense of what you think has to be said. Why are you still writing?”
To which Springsteen replies, “It’s how I find out who you are, and who I am, and then who we are. I’m interested in that. I’m interested in what it means to be an American,” Springsteen says. “I’m interested in what it means to live in America. I’m interested in the kind of country that we live in and leave our kids. I’m interested in trying to define what that country is. I got the chutzpa or whatever you want to say to believe that if I write a really good about it, it’s going to make a difference. It’s going to matter to somebody.”
Further topics include Springsteen’s background, the breaking up of the E Street Band in the early nineties, and playing “Born To Run.”
The segment ends with the observation that “Springsteen sees himself following a long American tradition reaching back through Vietnam and on to the Great Depression.
‘There’s a part of the singer going way back in American history that is of course the canary in the coalmine. When it gets dark, you’re supposed to be singing. It’s dark right now,’ Springsteen says. ‘And so I went back to Woody Guthrie and Dylan and the people who said, say take Pete Seeger, who wants to know, doesn’t want to know how this song sounds, he wants to know what’s it for.’ ‘What needs to be said, in this country at this moment, in your opinion, what needs to be said?’ Pelley asks. ‘I think we live in a time when what is true can be made to seem a lie,’ Springsteen says. ‘And what is lie can be made to seem true. And I think that the successful manipulation of those things have characterized several of our past elections. That level of hubris and arrogance has got us in the mess that we’re in right now. And we’re in a mess. But if we subvert, the best things that we’re about in the name of protecting our freedoms, if we remove them, then who are we becoming, you know? Who are we, you know? The American idea is a beautiful idea. It needs to be preserved, served, protected and sung out. Sung out.”
The bonus tracks are two songs from the Born In The U.S.A. tour. “Johnny 99” is the same version that appears on the Live 1975/1985 box set and has a time counter in the lower left hand corner. “Growin’ Up” from Los Angeles is likewise in excellent quality. A fragment of this footage appears in the Glory Days documentary, but his contains he complete performance of the song featuring the pantomime.
Is There Anybody Alive? is an excellent collection of recent performances in support of Magic. It is all in excellent quality and comes packaged in a cardboard sleeve with several screenshots of “The Today Show” and “VH1 Classics” broadcasts on the artwork. The discs are NTSC format region free making it compatible for all DVD players. The television broadcasts are in 4:3 ratio and the two bonus clips are in wide screen. The menu is interactive and well thought out and teh soundtrack is in PCM stereo.