Born to Run Audiobook

Approximately 95% of books that are written are never published in large print, audio or Braille. This means that there is a massive amount of material in the world that blind or visually impaired people don’t have access to, and never have the option to read. This can discourage people from reading because they cannot have the same choice of books as their sighted peers. Those which are converted to audio often take so long that the general hype and excitement surrounding their release is long forgotten about.

In September of this year, Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography ‘Born to Run’ was published, along with a companion CD called ‘Chapter and Verse’, and lots of excitement from fans world-wide. I was surprised to learn that I could be excited too, because there were plans to release an audiobook before the end of the year. I only had to wait a few months. I pre-ordered it on Audible, it became available on 6th December, and I was delighted to find that the “unknown” narrator was revealed to be none other than Springsteen himself!

In the story of ‘Born to Run’, Bruce recounts growing up in the small town of Freehold New Jersey, surrounded by a loving but often difficult family life. He writes about his friends, his influences, and his dreams. Seeing Elvis on television for the first time and knowing right then that he wanted to be a roc star, and that nothing was going to stop him. And nothing did.

Bruce Springsteen’s music was something I always heard growing up, but I didn’t really begin to listen to him properly until I was in my mid-teens. The more you listen, the more you want to hear, and when you go to one of his live shows and hear him play with the E Street band, the more you want to go back. It was fascinating to learn about how those friendships, the songs and the music were created. On stage nowadays, over forty years later, Springsteen still plays for over three hours each night. It’s impossible to find a more energetic charismatic performer, and a more tightly-knit band of singers and musicians. Off stage, he regularly deals with anxiety and depression which he writes honestly about in his book. His writing is simple and poetic, just like the lyrics in many of his songs. His story is one of hard work, determination and fun.

I listened to the ‘Born to Run’ audiobook any chance I had during the last five days. Breakfast and dinner were accompanied by Bruce’s raspy tones, the closest I’m ever going to get to having a meal with one of my favourite performers! I’m not sure I would have gotten through it as quickly if I had to read the Braille version, and it definitely wouldn’t have been as enjoyable. He narrates the book in his own relaxed style, like he’s sitting right there telling you a story. I would recommend it to any fan, even if you are able to read the printed copy.

‘Born to Run’ is a real treat for any Springsteen fan who is curious to understand where his passion and longevity comes from. It is Bruce telling his own story in his own words, exactly how it should be told. I’m just so glad that he took the eighteen plus hours out of his time to tell the audio version as well. Nobody else could do it justice by narrating it, and why should they? He is the boss after all!


Jake Clemons

Last Tuesday, myself and a work colleague went to see Jake Clemons play in

in Culdaff. It’s Ireland’s most northernly music venue, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Jake and his band were playing there as part of an Irish tour in support of his ’embracing light’ EP. I’ve seen him on stage as part of the E-Street band a couple of times, playing saxophone in one of the biggest bands in the world, so I didn’t know what to expect on a small stage in a bar in Donegal. Whatever happened, I knew it was going to be special, and it didn’t disappoint.

The gig began with songs from a Cork singer/songwriter called
Nicole Maguire

who I really enjoyed. She’s a great guitarist and has a great voice. Fortunately for her, but not for us, all her albums were sold out, so I definitely must get one online. She had supported Jake on a previous Irish tour, and he seemed to genuinely have respect for her as an artist. She seemed equally delighted to be there on stage as part of his tour.

The majority of the audience on the night were Bruce Springsteen fans, and maybe like me, they weren’t too familiar with Jake’s solo work. I only knew three songs! This is very unusual for me, because usually I really know a band well before I go to hear them play live. A girl in the front row did come prepared in her Jake Clemons t-shirt though.

Jake and his band came on stage at 9 PM, and the next 2 hours and 40 mins were not what I had expected. The band were lively and loud and full of enthusiasm. They sounded young and energetic, like they were excited to be performing their new material, yet they were very professional and tight. Jake moved between guitar to saxophone and piano like a pro, making me jealous that I couldn’t even learn one instrument properly. He walked around the audience, danced on a table and got a few people to dance with the band while he watched them and relaxed. The crowd took a short while to really get into the performance, but when they did, they enjoyed it and didn’t want it to finish.

The gig had a few highlights. The forth or fifth song was a version of ‘it takes two’ by Ryan Adams, a song I absolutely love. Mid way through this song, Jake played the saxophone for the very first time, to huge cheers from the audience. As the band played on, he then spoke about the loss of his uncle Clarance and the devistating impact it had on him. He didn’t feel like playing the saxophone again, until a friend talked to him and told him how Clarance would have wanted his music to be shared, and that it wasn’t an option for Jake not to do that. It was a fitting tribute in the middle of a great song. The band’s version of ‘a little help from my friends’ was amazing too. Jake invited Nicole back to sing a few songs with the band, after which he told the audience that he was very privileged to play on one of her own songs. She sang the vocals while the band accompanied her with Jake playing sax. The gig ended with an acoustic unplugged version of ‘carry me through’, with each band member taking a verse and singing the chorus together.

You can hear influences of Bruce in Jake’s music at times when he speaks to the audience, but he is a musician in his own right, producing his own original material with a brilliant band. Anyone who was expecting him to sound like Springsteen or act like Clarance was very wrong. He’s unique, but he’s also really really good!

And I discovered that he’s really sound too! After the gig he came back into the bar and talked to people. The owner pointed him in the direction of myself and Deborah first, which was nice since we had to get up for two long days of work in the morning. He gave me a hug and thanked me for coming. He seemed humble and gentle, and quieter than the rocker on stage a while earlier! Deborah talked much more than me, telling him that we worked together, that we were related and that I flew a plane! Not sure how that got in there, but he seemed impressed and amused by how embarrassed I was. More embarrassing was what she said next! It was lovely to go to a gig which was someone elses idea for a change. It was also lovely to have someone describe the stage, where things were and what people were doing. If Deborah sees something interesting, she thinks I need to know about it too, which is a nice thought most of the time. except when she asked Jake if I could touch his hair, because she’d been describing it to be earlier in the night. He was so cool about it all and just said “yeah sure!” and told me that it felt like wool. I’d never touched an afro before and was curious to know what it looked like, but I didn’t want to touch somebody’s that I don’t even know, and definitely not somebody that I hugely admire as a musician. My face must have looked priceless! We got a photograph with him, bought CDs to be signed, and I made Deborah leave as quickly as possible!

So overall, the gig was brilliant, McGrory’s is a fantastic venue that I’ll hopefully be spending more time in, and I got the closest to meeting Bruce Springsteen that I’m probably ever going to get! Even if it was a little bit too close for my liking! I hoped Jake Clemons enjoyed his first visit to Donegal as much as we enjoyed having him there.

The Boss in Belfast

I’ve given up trying to write about Bruce Springsteen when I go to see him live. Its just impossible to describe how good he is. Even after the forth time his performances are still adictive, and I want to see him again and again.

Set List:

(Pre show acoustic set which we unfortunately missed because we couldn’t travel to Belfast until 4 O’clock.)
1. Surprise, Surprise
3. Growin’ Up
4. IN DREAMS (partial)
5. This Hard Land

Main set:
This Little Light of Mine
The Ties That Bind
Jackson Cage
She’s the One
Reason to Believe
Johnny 99
Atlantic City
Prove It All Night (’78 intro)
We Take Care Of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
Death To My Hometown
The River
Open All Night
Cadillac Ranch
Darlington County
Bobby Jean
Shackled and Drawn
Waiting on a Sunny Day
The Rising
Rocky Ground
Born in the USA
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
This Little Light of Mine
Thunder Road (solo)

This gig wasn’t my favourite Springsteen gig, only because I thought the crowd were a bit more subdued and the atmosphere wasn’t as good. That could have just been where I was standing though, and it did get better as we moved towards the front. I’d never heard Nebraska live before. It was perfect and beautiful. Thunder Road was a great surprise when we thought the gig was over.
I Liked the venue overall, as although it held at least 20,000 people, it didn’t feel too packed. The bus was able to drop us off and collect us right outside, and the sound was really impressive for an outdoor venue. The only downside which didn’t affect me was the length of the queue for the bar. Nicky and I waited by a stand while the people we were with went to get a drink before the gig started, and they waited for over an hour. It meant that we watched the first half an hour of the gig by ourselves, which might be scarey for some blind people, being in a field without somebody sighted, but it didn’t bother me. Bruce was on stage so I only had one thing on my mind!
Its funny though, because often when I’m at a gig, I’m happy to listen and not be interrupted by talkers, so I can concentrate completely on the music. But with Bruce and the E-Street Band, I find that i want to ask questions and know what’s happening on stage and what Bruce is doing, especially when he goes near the crowd and they go crazy!

One of the women we were with had an eleven-year-old child with her, and she was given two wrist bands to go up the front where her son could actually see what was happening. We weren’t with them at this stage, and even if we were, I don’t think they’d have let the five of us up. I’ll just have to come much earlier next time, and keep hoping I can make it to the front row someday.That would be a dream come true.

Paul and Bruce

Who are Paul and Bruce you might wonder? If I said the names Simon and Springsteen, you might just have a better idea of who I’m talking about.

Last Friday Nicky and I went to see Paul Simon in the O2, the second Irish gig of his ‘Graceland’ 25th anniversary tour. We took O J and Ralph, who stayed in the radio control room during the gig because it would have been too noisy. It wasn’t actually as loud as I was expecting, probably since we were seated in the wheelchair section. I learned at Victoria Stilwell’s seminar that dogs hear at 67,000HZ, compared to humans hearing at 20,000, so I think we made the right decision. The staff in the venue were great with the dogs and couldn’t have been more helpful.

The gig was amazing, and the African musicians added a fantastic sound to Simon and his regular band. ‘The obvious child’ and ‘the boxer’ were personal highlights. The funniest moment came near the beginning of the gig, when a girl shouted “we love you Paul” to which he quickly replied, “I love me too. 28% of the time anyway.” Maybe you had to be there 😀

On Wednesday we were back in Dublin to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band, for the second of his Irish shows, and my third time seeing him. As usual he was incredible, playing for three and a half hours like he did the previous night, only leaving the stage for about a minute. He changed sixteen songs in the thirty-two song set list from the previous night, which is impressive, especially if you were lucky enough to go to both. The death of Clarence Clemence last year had a noticeable effect, but he was well remembered. His nephew Jake Clemence did a great job, despite sneezing and pulling his back the night before, and playing his sax from  a wheelchair. I was ridiculously jealous of the kids who were taken on stage, and the people who got their signs read and requests played. Some day I will be in that front row!! You can read reviews about the gig

<a HREF=””>here</a>


<a HREF=””>this blog review</a>

And there’s lots more online, which describe the gig better than I ever could.

Both Simon and Springsteen proved that they still absolutely love what they do, even after all these years of touring and performing. Paul Simon’s band sounded very tight and polished, while Bruce’s, even though they played effortlessly, sounded more like they were session musicians having fun. Both singers showed great respect for their band members, introducing them and name-checking them more than once. It’s nice to see the main performer not steeling the limelight all the time, and these two seemed happy to share it often. I know that my  musical highlights for the year are over, and nothing can beat or even equal the last week of music. Hopefully Simon and Springsteen enjoyed Ireland so much that they intend coming back very soon. I’ll be saving for tickets for both in the meantime!

Set lists below, thanks to

<a HREF=””>Swear I’m Not Paul</a>

The second Paul Simon Graceland 25th Anniversary Tour show at the O2 featured a very special guest – legendary Irish fiddle player Martin Hayes. Martin guested on Simon & Garfunkel song ‘The Boxer’

Set list:
Gone at last
Dazzling blue
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Mother & child
Hearts & bones
Mystery train/wheel
Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Slip Sliding Away
Obvious child
Hello my baby
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
I Know What I Know
Boy in the bubble
Crazy Love vol II
African Sunset
Under African skies
You Can Call Me Al
Sound of Silence
The Boxer (with Martin Hayes)
Late In The Evening
Still crazy After All These Years

Night two of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s stop over at the RDS on the Wrecking Ball Tour brought many more classics to Irish shores, including the fantastic ‘Atlantic City’ and ‘The Promise’ as well as a sign request of ‘Jackson Cage’.

1. This Hard Land (acoustic)
2. No Surrender
3. Two Hearts
4. The Ties the Bind
5. We Take Care of Our Own
6. Badlands
7. Something In The Night
8. Adam Raised a Cain
9. Wrecking Ball
10. Death to My Hometown
11. My City of Ruins
12. Spirit In The Night
13. Jackson Cage
14. She’s The One
15. Jack of All Trades
16. Atlantic City
17. Because The Night
18. Darlington County
19. Easy Money
20. Waitin’ On a Sunny Day
21. The Promise (solo piano)
22. The River
23. Backstreets
24. Land of Hope & Dreams

25. Born in the USA
26. Born To Run
27. Glory Days
28. Seven Nights To Rock
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
31. Rocky Ground
32. American Land

Bruce and the E Street Band

When I saw Bruce Springsteen
last year
I thought it was the best gig I’d ever been to and that nothing could beat it, but last nights one was even better.
Myself and a friend got the bus to Dublin yesterday morning and, eventually another one to a mate aka Hollocaine’s house where we were staying. We weren’t really sure where we were going and wanted to get there as soon as possible. A woman who was a passenger on the bus complained because she got a small rip in her trousers from something sticking out of the seat, so we were delayed for about 10 minutes. It obviously wasn’t funny for her but we did laugh!

We got to the R.D.S at 3,30 and began the lovely wait until the gig started. We got wrist bands and got close to the stage, but had to wait for three hours inside the arina. It rained from 4 until after 10 but when the band came on nobody cared.

The band came on and hardly stopped at all between songs. Every musician was brilliant as usual and Bruce interacted so much with the audience, who loved every minute of it. They began appropriately enough with ‘who’ll stop the rain’ and it didn’t stop until after Bruce pointed at a cloudless part of the sky and played ‘waitin on a sunny day’. I was so happy when I heard the beginning of ‘thunder road’ as I really wanted to hear it live. The crowd singing along to ‘the river’ gave me goosebumps, and I loved the fact that you thought a song was almost over and the band would go into it again and play for another few minutes.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Springsteen fans make signs requesting songs and hold them up for Bruce to read. He went into the crowd a couple of times and collected lots of them, before organising them and playing a selection of songs that were requested. You never know what to expect at this point so it was good fun. Roadies had to keep coming onstage to mop the water away, but it didn’t stop Bruce from running around and going crazy. He must be very very fit!
There is a small guide dog connection in all of this. My friend noticed someone with an Irish guide dogs hat standing behind us at the end of the gig.

I have never sang and jumped so much at a gig, and my calf muscles are aching today. We got home at half 5, tired but happy that we had just seen the best gig possible. I would have went tonight if I could, and can completely understand why so many people last night were going again.
I’m off to Dublin again in the morning, but I’ll talk about why when I come back.

Set List:
July 11, 2009
Dublin, Ireland

Who’ll Stop The Rain
Cover Me
My Lucky Day
Outlaw Pete
Out In The Street
Working On A Dream
Johnny 99
Ghost of Tom Joad
Raise Your Hand
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Seven Nights To Rock
For You
Thunder Road
Because The Night
Waiting On A Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The River
Kingdom Of Days
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born To Run

Hard Times
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
American Land
Bobby Jean
Dancing In The Dark
Twist & Shout

Happy birthday Jen’s big sister!

We went for dinner last night for Jen’s sister’s 30th birthday. As usual I didn’t get any dinner but everybody else said it was lovely. We went to
the Beach House
which is the nicest restaurant in Buncrana. We had a table beside the window with a lovely view of the sea. This kept me entertained all evening. I was able to watch boats in the water and the dogs out for their evening walks. I growled a bit sometimes and Jen told me to stop. I couldn’t resist letting out one bark, which made her jump (It’s so funny when I do that!)
Apart from that I was very good and a few people said I was the best dog they’d ever seen. They still didn’t give me any yummy food though.
Jen’s sister is having a party in her house tomorrow night but I’m not able to go. I don’t mind though because the boys are coming down to stay so they will play with me and maybe take me to the beach on Sunday.

Jen got an email during the week from a man that we met when we went to see
Christy Moore in Buncrana.
He said that he was so impressed with this blog and meeting me that he has decided to sponsor a guide dog puppy. That’s a really nice thing to do. He also appologised for petting me because he didn’t know that you couldn’t pet guide dogs when they have their harness on. Jen said it was ok because we were just standing there so he wasn’t distracting me at all. I love people petting me so of course I didn’t mind.

I think we might be going outside now. I’m not sure if we’re going for a walk or if I can play with my toys on the grass. I hope we can do both.
Woof x

Currently listening to: ‘working on a dream’ the newest Bruce Springsteen album. I like it but Jen still won’t let me come with her to see him next weekend. She says it will be too busy and loud. I suppose dogs can’t go everywhere.

Today FM

Yesterday was the first day of my Christmas holidays and what better way to start the holidays than by winning prizes, basically just for answering the phone!
I always listen to Ian Dempsey in the morning on today fm when I’m getting ready for work. The ‘kickstart’ song is the first song on the show, selected by a listener and played directly after the news, sport and weather at 7 o clock. If your song gets picked Ian reads out your email and sends you one of those coffee cups that keeps your drink hot. I want one, so decided to email today fm during the week. I picked Bruce Springsteen’s Santa clause is comin to town, as it’s a festive song and the Bruce gig earlier this year was the highlight of the year for me.
It turns out that on Fridays they call the person who picked the ‘kickstart’ song and they are live on the radio. I completely forgot about this as I don’t work on Fridays and rarely be awake at 7 am. So I got up early yesterday and talked to Ian (who was very sound and cheerful at that time of the morning!) and of course he played my favourite Christmas song. Marta our Spanish student went home yesterday so I got to say bye to her, even though she was in the shower and didn’t even hear her request. I think I might get some cds for entering, but I’m not exactly sure what. I’ll just have to look out for the postman all next week.
I have always been very lucky with today fm. I occasionally get requests played and emails read out. Presenters are usually quite good at replying to emails as well. In 2005, just before I started my final year of university in Belfast, I won 4 grand on Tom Dunn’s ‘petsounds’ program, the show that introduced me to lots of the music I love today.
Maybe more important than winning the money at the time was when my sister organised for me to meet David Gray in Dublin when he played in Marley Park for three nights in 2001. I was 15 and it was a dream come true. It was a surprise, and I didn’t find out until the evening before. Maureen emailed a number of radio stations, and Brian Adams, head of music at today fm got in touch with David’s publicist and arranged the meet and greet. I emailed him to thank him afterwards, but I don’t think he really knew how much it meant to me.
So today fm is a lot more to me than a radio station I turn on for a bit of background noise.

Bruce Springsteen – what a complete legend!

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m completely mad about music, and going to gigs in particular. The first one i went to was Bon Jovi when i was only ten, and I’ve been going to as many as i can since then. Of course there’s lots of bands/singers I’d like to see, but until yesterday (23rd May 2008) there was only one important one that i hadn’t seen – and that was Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band.Well it was worth the long wait, all the travelling in a slow bus, and the very sore legs I have today after all my jumping around.The gig was in the R.D.s and there was no support. Me and Deirdre sat outside for a couple of hours before in the lovely weather. We started making our way in just after 7 and I was getting very excited. Bruce and the band came on at 8 and played the most amazing and class 2 and a half hours of music I’ve ever heard! The sound where we were standing wasn’t great, and when we moved, we happened to be standing beside 2 security guards, who gave us wrist bands to go to the front – i was touching the barrier at one point. Bruce seemed to be loving every minute of it onstage, shaking hands with lots of people (but not coming far enough our way.) He tried to take this wee girl onstage, but she was too shy, and he promised he wouldn’t scare children again.The whole band were amazing. They are excellent musicians and I’ve heard anything that good. I didn’t know some of the songs, as I’m only a pup of a fan! He did play new stuff too and a beautiful version of ‘magic’ to a silent crowd. ‘born to run’, ‘bad lands’ and ‘glory days’ provided great sing alongs, and he finished with a kick-ass version of ‘American lands’Deirdre wasn’t shy after a few drinks, and after the gig we met Bruce’s body guard,and she tried to get backstage. I hate anyone using my disability to get something, but I didn’t care if it meant that I could meet the boss. In my dreams! Bruce had left the R.D.S apparently, but it was worth a try.I would highly recommend everyone to go and see “the heart stopping, pants dropping, earth shattering, hard rocking, hips shaking, earth quaking, nerve breaking, Viagra taking, history making, legendary E-Street Band”