We know it was a big weekend for HBO as it gave us non-fiction Friday night; a big movie premiere on Saturday and the debuts of Sunday. Leading off the big weekend of April 4 – 6 was a piece that might have got lost in the schedule. We give it proper notice now.
Overview: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S HIGH HOPES, chronicling the making of his 18th studio album, debuted Friday, 04.04 at 9:30pm, exclusively on HBO. The half-hour documentary by Grammy- and Emmy-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny explores the creation of “High Hopes,” which reached the No. 1 position in 20 countries after its January release. The film features rare behind-the-scenes studio and rehearsal segments, exclusive E Street Band tour footage and revealing interviews with Springsteen and album collaborator Tom Morello, guitarist for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. The two discuss their artistic choices for the project and explain how Morello brought a distinctive twist to Springsteen’s material. Morello joined Springsteen and the E Street Band on tour in Australia in 2013 and the two began collaborating on ideas that would make their way onto “High Hopes.” Morello’s guitar work is featured on several tracks, including “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” on which he also shares lead vocals with Springsteen. After following a successful 2014 tour of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Springsteen and the E Street Band will return for U.S. dates in April and May. The E Street Band will also be honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a special Award for Musical Excellence at the April 10 induction ceremony, which will air on HBO in May. “High Hopes” was released Jan. 14, 2014 to rave reviews. NPR’s “Fresh Air” said that it “makes you want to follow Springsteen wherever he may go,” while Esquire noted, “Springsteen is once more a man standing with a guitar in his hand, triumphant,” and American Songwriter called the album “a compelling, unified statement: part grief and grievance, part love and transcendence.” In 2010, HBO presented the Springsteen documentary THE PROMISE: THE MAKING OF “DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN”, which was also directed by Zimny.
Expectations: Infomercial or true documentary? I mentioned in our preview piece that HBO wavered between calling this a documentary or a special. It certainly doesn’t need to be an ad for the “High Hopes” album as it has sold plenty of copies since its debut in January. It all hinges on the tone taken in the film. What I hope for in this quick twenty-nine minutes is a taste of the artistic efforts of The Boss and The Band and a
sampling of the sounds. I truly expect that is what we will get from it as Bruce has always seemed to be about the music not the business.
Gut Reactions: I could listen to Bruce mumbling over his philosophy of life at that microphone for a while longer and I’m not just talking about the lyrics in his songs but the thoughts he speaks in narration to this documentary. Oh, and the music is not bad either. The Boss and the E Street Band have survived for a reason and this album is another fine example just why they have. It is simple as that.
In Conclusion: Regardless of whether you have the “High Hopes” album or not this quick musical journey through the thoughts and the stories is quite nice. Check if you have ever liked anything from Springsteen and then purchase the album for yourself.
Other air dates include 04.08 at 1:00am; 04.09 at 9:00am; 04.10 at 11:30pm; 04.11 at 4:00pm; 04.12 at 3:30pm; 04.15 at 10:15am; 04.18 at 2:30am and on HBOGo. I could play you a song from the album, but none of the clips are really from this documentary special except the Promo Trailer – so here it is again.