I Wanna Marry You

Consider this week’s post, “I Wanna Marry You,” part two of my E Street Band study project, part one being last week’s track, “Big Schools.” While “Big Schools” was an original in the style of Springsteen, this song is fully a cover, one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums, The River.

I loaded the original version onto ProTools as its own track, and then I set about trying to make as close to a note-for-note cover as possible, time and budget permitting. (Clarence Clemons not being available, the saxophone was spelled by an organ.) One illuminating exercise was making a tempo grid that followed the tempo of Max Weinberg’s drum take. Now here’s Max Weinberg, the ultimate pro. You listen to the original and you think, “That Max Weinberg, he never misses a beat… he’s a machine.” But when you set out to map the tempo of the entire song, it turns out that he’s making subtle changes all the time — from verse to chorus, from before a break to after a break, etc. — and surely in the end it sounds better than it would have had he been truly “perfect.” Something to keep in mind in our age of digital perfection.

Other than that, I just really appreciated the pianistics of Roy Bittan as always, and how amazingly the arrangement works as a whole, with the notes of one instrument lending complexity to the chords of another. Indie rock is all well and good, but sometimes the big boys get big for a reason (see also: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). Finally, it’s fun hearing Springsteen lift from the Phil Spector girl-group sensibility (by chance, I was listening to “Little Boy” by the Crystals earlier today, and I’d swear that song was at least subconsciously running through the Boss’s head while he penned this one). As I was doing my vocal take, I noticed that my Ronnie Spector imitation is strikingly similar to my Springsteen imitation, which must mean that he got his sense of epic drama straight from the source!

I’m going on and on here, but in closing I wanted to quote from a Springsteen profile that ran in the late great Creem magazine in January 1981, the month that The River was released. He was responding to criticism that he had taken too long to record the album (never mind that is now regarded as one of the greatest albums in the history of rock and roll!!!):

“I don’t want to just take up space on the shelf, ya know? Or worry that if you don’t have something out every six months, or even a year, that people are going to forget about you. I was never interested in approaching it that way. I’ve never been, from the beginning. I just have a feeling about the best I can do at a particular time, ya know? And that’s what I wanted to do. And I don’t come out until I feel that that’s what I’ve done. Becasuse there’s so many records coming out, and there’s so much stuff on the shelves. Why put out something that you don’t feel is what it should be? And I don’t believe in tomorrows, that ‘Oh, I’ll put the other half out six months from now.’ You may be dead, you just don’t know. You make your record like it’s the last record you’ll ever make.”

Preach it, Boss.

13 Responses to “I Wanna Marry You”
  1. Katie says:

    This. Is. Fantastic.

    The River is indeed an excellent album, and your version of I Wanna Marry You is excellent as well.

    It’s the song I’ll be listening to all day, I imagine.

  2. Abraham says:

    Thanks Katie!! It is definitely fun to walk in the footsteps of the greats once in a while just to see how they do it.

  3. Lara says:

    Yes! I can totally hear the Phil Spector girl group vibe– I love to hear this take on it. I like the way your voice sounds: cool and convinced. What fun!

  4. Lara says:

    Yes! I can totally hear the Phil Spector girl group vibe– I love to hear this take on it. I like the way your voice sounds: cool and convinced. What fun!

  5. Righteous Tighteous. I do not know the original version of this but you channel the Boss rather adroitly.

    Also, that is some advice from the man himself that I could certainly stand to take into account.

  6. I should add that the appropriate nature of the song’s titular/lyrical content was a happy surprise.

  7. KatiaSilver says:

    It sounds like the Boss is a bit of a Buddhist? Or at least Zen-like.
    It’s so true- you just might be dead. Why not sing a super song RIGHT NOW?

  8. Abraham says:

    Ara-Lai: Thank you kindly! One of the reasons my voice sounds “cool” is that I was trying not to wake you up.

    P M S: Thank you my friend. I know, I too could take that advice big time; that’s why it stood out so luminously.

    Kat Sil: Indeed. Why not leave a blog comment right now? Or respond to one? Do whatever you want… just do it NOW!! I’m going to go make the greatest sandwich in the world.

  9. Judah says:

    Not to inject my politics into this blog (politics and blogs? what?), but given (a) the Boss thread, (b) the fact that this blog is based in Chi-town, and (c) the fact that no one but Abe is reading this post at this point:



  10. The Bubble King says:

    I’m still reading! What was the connection between Bruce’s website and politics? I just saw tour recaps and a memoriam.

  11. Judah says:

    BK, sorry about that!

    Dear Friends and Fans:

    LIke most of you, I’ve been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.

    He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that’s interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where “…nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.”

    At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man’s life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams of My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment.

    After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans.

    Over here on E Street, we’re proud to support Obama for President.

  12. Abraham says:

    Judah: As a working man-turned-gazillionaire, the Boss is a better caricature of an Obama supporter than any of Obama’s detractors could have dreamed up! I still love BO, though… I’m a red-wine liberal at heart. (And red wine is good for your heart.)

  13. The Bubble King says:

    I think my dad once told me some story about how Bruce Springsteen played at some prom my dad attended before he (Bruce) was famous. Uh, I might have to straighten out the details, but that was basically it.

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