To quote Lefsetz, YouTube is the new Napster, full to bursting with rare and wonderful music. I could care less about LonelyGirl vanity projects and Mentos experiments (well, those are kinda cool actually), but gimme all the grainy Midnight Special videos you can dish out.
YouTube’s essence is stuff like this gem, a (what looks to be) audience-taped performance of Bruce Springsteen performining “Promised Land” in 1981 at the Hollywood Bowl, with a t-shirted Jackson Browne singing harmony and strumming backup guitar. Look for the boom mike crowding the shot about two-thirds of the way through.
The audio is surprisingly good. I swear to God, I never knew the chorus begins “the dogs on Main Street howl ’cause they understand, if I could take one moment into my hands.” Like most unplugged versions, particularly ones that haven’t been bludgeoned to death by classic rock radio (the song was about three years old at the time of this performance), it reveals key elements often buried by studio technology. That’s why “Thunder Road,” from the “Live 1975-1985” box set (the acoustic version that opens the first disk) is my all-time favorite Springsteen track. The raw, naked conviction when he moans “Well, I bought this guitar and I learned how to make it talk” put me closer to the moment when those words entered his brain then I’ll ever be.
The soul that makes such timeless tracks – that’s rock and roll.