The Hitter 
An Online Springsteen Commentary - Version 3.4 - 11 August 2001 -
Written on the J-Card

The Hitter recently contributed liner notes to a not-for-profit fan presentation of the August 20, 1981 benefit concert at the Los Angeles Sports Arena for the Vietnam Veterans of America.  You can read them (in JPEG format) here.

We have but two requests:

Numero uno, don't ask us where or how to get the discs.  They should be easily obtainable in the usual places (for free or trade), and we just write stuff; we don't distribute it.

Numero two-o, please visit the Vietnam Veterans of America web site at and consider making a contribution, if you have enjoyed this show in any way.

Read Past Issues

Version 3.03, 8 April 2001
Version 3.02, 26 February 2001
Version 3.01, 13 February 2001
Version 2.08, 3 January 2001
Version 2.07, 19 November 2000
Version 2.06, 3 August 2000
Version 2.05, 12 June 2000
Version 2.04, 22 May 2000
Version 2.03, 9 May 2000
Version 2.02, 12 February 2000
Version 1.3, 19 December 1999
Version 1.2, 24 November 1999
Version 1.1, 15 November 1999

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"I've Got a Bad Feeling About This ..."

It looks like October will see two major DVD purchases in our household.  (Let's set aside Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather saga for the moment, which, at 5 discs, would be a purchase of such girth that it would provoke severe marital disharmony.)  One is Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, and the other is Bruce Springsteen: Live in New York City.  If the advance information on each holds true, these two projects will be so different, and yet so alike.

Admit it.  Seeing Episode One was like when you first bought Human Touch.  You wanted to like it, you tried to like it, but you couldn't help it.  It was disappointing.  Maybe this was because it was so hopelessly earnest, lacking any of the wit or good cheer that made you giddy over Star Wars in 1977.

In stark contrast, the initial airing of LINYC on HBO was an unqualified success.  Bruce faced a really tough dilemma: how do you take a three-hour concert, and retain its essential elements in a medium where no one will sit for that length of time?  He answered it almost perfectly.  He yielded a crisp, two-hour presentation that did minimal violence to the architecture of the show.  Even the placement of "American Skin" over the closing credits made sense: it had to be in the program, but no average HBO viewer would make it through thirty minutes of dirge in the first half of the show without going to the fridge for a snack.

If Episode One was a disappointment on the big screen, on DVD looks to be simply remarkable.  According to Lucasfilm, it will boast all sorts of goodies: deleted scenes, a George Lucas commentary, the teaser and trailers, and various interactive features.  Maybe, just maybe, the Episode One DVD will be good enough to provoke a reassessment of the movie itself: was the movie really that bad, or was it simply impossible for any film to meet the expectations set by such hype?  Such a reassessment could only be helpful, with Episode Two: Attack of the Clones set for release next May, and maybe that's why Lucas is adding such value to the product.

Yet if the advance word is true on the LINYC DVD, it looks like that disc may present the exact opposite situation.  By staying just a little too faithful to the HBO broadcast, it is poised to disappoint.  We don't know, but we've been told that the DVD, once rumored to be essentially a complete concert, will instead be the HBO special, with bonus songs added but not integrated into the show.

To us, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  The HBO special was shaped by the trade-offs that were necessary to hold onto a broadcast audience.  Yet none of these trade-offs are necessary on DVD.  In that medium, you can watch as much, or as little, as you want at one time.  So why not present an idealized version of the entire show, especially since the DVD will be the definitive document of the 1999-2000 tour?

One must be careful to avoid the same churlishness with the LINYC DVD that spoiled Episode One.   If the rumors are true, it looks like we will still get a lot of material; it just won't be organized quite as most fans would have preferred.  That means a lot.

Still, however, it would be nice if Bruce generated a release of such quality that it was not just satisfying, but genuinely surprising.  Maybe, like George Lucas, he operates in a world of such high expectations, fueled by his own delays and idiosyncracy as well as by a slightly crazed fan base, that it is simply impossible anymore for him to do so.  With the release of a new studio album from Bruce later this year (we hope), and of Episode Two from Lucas next May, we suppose we'll find out.