Trying To Get To You

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vampire Weekend Flatten Springsteen

I first heard Vampire Weekend in the summer of 2007 when they were blog buzzing. A friend sent me a link to their Myspace page and said something smarmy about them, asking me where everyone's balls went. I didn't think much of what I heard-this was obviously "smart people" music made by overeducated kids who had probably majored in semiotics, or something in that realm. But whatever, they kind of blew up. I've listened to their albums and while I can listen to them and experience a bit of pleasure, broadly speaking, they do nothing for me.

There's a YouTube video of them doing Springsteen's "I'm Goin' Down" a couple of weeks ago in Vancouver that's been making the rounds. It took me a couple of tries to get all the way through it-it's so horribly cutesy and neutered that it occurs as pointless. I can't help but wonder why they even played it, as they bring nothing to it; not humor, not longing, not sadness and not fun. Yes, there's an interesting novelty about a hot indie band playing a song off of Born In The U.S.A., something that would have been unthinkable ten to twenty years ago, but all Vampire Weekend does is flatten the song into a non-entity. Listening to it, it's no wonder they've been dubbed the world's Whitest Band.

"I'm Goin' Down" is sometimes considered one of the slightest songs on Born In The U.S.A., but it's really not slight at all. It's a Springsteen song that sounds happy but is really sad, following in the grand Springsteen tradition of uptempo songs with much darker lyrical undertones. What it's really about is how love fades or becomes obscured over time. Or said in a better way, how familiarity breeds contempt.

Bruce spoke of this in his introduction to the song on the Born In The U.S.A. tour in 1984-1985. It's a funny little rap, and by putting the song in its rightful context, he takes something that could be seen as slight and elevates it to the level of something truly special, something that eludes Vampire Weekend utterly and completely.

Download: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - "I'm Goin Down" (Los Angeles, CA  10/26/84)


Anonymous said...

You are so right! I watched the video and wondered if there was something to Vampire Weekend's performance that I wasn't getting. I have enjoyed seeing many covers of Springsteen songs, but this one is completely flat.
New Orleans LA

Anonymous said...

Peter is gay and he LOVES it!!!

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Clara said...

I completely agree that this was definitely not the best cover. The video clearly shows a lack of depth and even the people there aren't really excited. If you want to see some great soul albums videos you have to check out ranker

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