Walk tall / or, baby, don’t walk at all
I’ve loved this song since the first time I listened to ‘The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle’. The album as a whole took longer to grow on me than most other Bruce albums. But when I finally got it, I really got it. This is the final song on the album. It’s nearly 10 minutes long, but I wish it was longer. It starts off with a sweeping piano intro by Bruce’s pianist at the time, David Sancious. You could be listening to Rachmaninoff. The song is New York City. Everything about the music reminds me of that great city. NYC is one of my favourite places on the planet. I’ve visited twice now and I hope in the next few years I will get back there for a longer stay (I’ve never been there longer than 6 days).
A great memory for me comes from my last visit to Manhattan. It was a 5 day trip I took with two of my best friends and we were staying on the Upper West Side. On the Sunday, we had done our usual 50 block walk to Midtown and ended up in an Irish bar on East 48th St, right near the Rockefeller Center. It’s probably my favourite part of Manhattan. The bar staff were very friendly, the food impeccable, and the bar manager gave us free Bailey’s when we left. As we walked back up 5th Avenue towards Central Park, I put this song on my iPod. It was an incredible 10 minutes. Just me, Manhattan, my friends, and Bruce. The night was cold but clear, and all the lights of Manhattan twinkled. It was the closest thing to real magic I’ve ever experienced. Moments like that can’t be bought or reenacted; they just ‘are’. That was in November 2011 and it’s now April 2013, but that memory is as fresh as ever. I’ll never forget it.
Blah, word vomit ahead. This song conjures too many memories to count.
1. First time I saw Bruce’s bum wiggle in those jeans must have been when I was a kid watching MTV or VH1. But I remember the first time I watched it and had FEELINGS about that wiggling bum. That was around 2008 when the obsession first kicked off.
2. Seeing it live at my first Bruce gig, May 2008, one of few songs I knew at that point… phoned my Mum so she could hear it.
3. My 23rd birthday. Me and my mates in Bamboogy on King Street in Wigan. They got this played for me, it was glorious.
4. Any time in Reflex bar I’ve managed to get it on.
5. One of my top 5 songs to run/gym to. Nothing better than pummeling the treadmill whilst Bruce sings, “can’t start a fire / can’t start a fire without a spark”.
6. Dancing to it at a friend’s family party in summer 2012. Dancing with my best mates in the White Hart in London just before Christmas. Me and my friend Holly doing the classic Bruce dance from this very video.
7. One of those songs that can just pick me up when I’m down. “Can’t start a fire / sittin’ round cryin’ over a broken heart”. Thanks Bruce.
If you have a sibling, you’ll get it. If you have best friends, you’ll get it. Made all the more lovely for me and my brother because it was released in September 1969, and we are both September babies (my brother – 23rd, me – 27th).
A bit of cheesy dance music for your ears. This song reminds me of every Saturday night I’ve ever had down King Street in my hometown of Wigan, specifically the bending, sticky dancefloor of Surfer’s Paradise (formerly Walkabout). There was a time I loved this song so much that I couldn’t listen to it until at least Thursday and listening to it on a Monday was a crime. I miss those Saturday nights, but everything changes and the nights out I have now are never quite as good as I remember the ones of old. And the hangovers are so much worse these days!
The Reflex nightclub (formerly Flares). Friday night. Some time between 2005 and 2006. A sticky, neon dancefloor. Some terrible, shitty made-up concoction masquerading as a cocktail. Me and 5 of my best girl friends. Lots of 40-something men perving on us. This song. We didn’t have a care in the world. I miss it.