My friend Martyn Joseph has a new record out called Tires Rushing By In The Rain (link to my review below). It is an entire album of Bruce Springsteen cover versions. As Martyn is playing The Errigle Inn in Belfast tomorrow night (Oct 30, 2013) I thought I'd shoot him a few quick Facebook questions about the record and his hero Bruce Springsteen...
A whole album of Springsteen? When did that birth itself as an idea?
I have often thrown in a Bruce song through the years and was often asked about recording an album of them. The final push I needed was when Dave Marsh said he would write sleeve notes. I thought he knows the man well and if he is up for doing that it must have some merit.
You've been a Bruce fan for a long time. What was the first record of his you bought?
Think it was tunnel of love. I have a distinct memory of flying into Nashville with it playing on my cassette walkman in 87. I think it’s my favourite though it’s so hard to choose.
How did being a Springsteen listener affect your own songwriting?
It set a high standard and something to aspire to. His ability more than any other artist to articulate the ‘male’ journey was always fascinating to me. He just tells it so well. I would throw stuff away because If i put on one of his records you could see that your work wasn’t up to scratch.
What sets him apart from other artists that you take time over?
Well there is a huge integrity there and a heart full of passion and urgency worn on a sleeve that gets life with all its contradictions. And he grows as we do and tells it like it is and that will always be appealing. Cool is not important as such, its just obvious that he cares and more than most.
When did you first cover a Springsteen song and how did you choose?
Think it was Thunder Road many, many years ago. I just went for the ones I loved and that had resonance with me. The Promise is my favourite I think but not many folk know that so I thought it would be good to open up some of the lesser known material. Others like The River just have to be there really.
Were there any Springsteen songs you thought about and then thought it didn't fit in the Joseph career?
No, there were a bunch of others I could have done but I thought 17 was probably enough!
What do you hope this record achieves in the listener?
Well the beautiful thing is that big time Bruce fans are saying nice things. Primarily that its opening the songs up in a new way. You get so used to a sound and the subconscious sometimes ignores what is actually being said and it seems some are listening to songs they have known for a long time with fresh ears and finding new things. That’s amazing to me. And I’m getting Springsteen fans coming to shows who had never heard of me before and that’s nice too. Gives me a chance to win them over to my stuff!
You bring a different slant to some songs. How did you find your way into your versions?
Well it’s not hard as I have been listening to them a long time and you know they have come alongside many times and whispered truth to me. So it’s a joy to sing material like that and there is a big emotional connection. So i sing them for me as such but its hallowed turf and you tread gently.
Are you sending it to Bruce?
Personally no but if it does make his ears someday I hope it’s received as an act of gratitude for thats what it is. I won’t be doing this for anyone else.