How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?

I’m like an addict waiting for my next fix–two weeks until the Bruce show at Saratoga. I usually avoid bootlegs and other tour tidbits before the show for which I have tickets, but I couldn’t resist watching Bruce on Monday’s Tonight Show.

The song he played (with the full 20 piece Seger Sessions Band) was How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live? As you can see from the hyperlink, it’s been done many times since its original performance by Blind Alfred Reed in 1929. The version I had originally heard was the rockabilly-influenced stomp of the 1980’s NYC band the Del-Lords. I still have it on vinyl down in my basement, I think I’ll probably fire up the turntable tomorrow.

The version tonight by Bruce left me speechless–even on the lo-fi speakers of my TV (turned up loud against the protests of my long-suffering wife. ) However, even my wife was won over by the performance. The pedal-streel guitar solos were offset by the drive of the horn section barreling in on the chorus. Bruce dedicated the song to “our friends in New Orleans”. The lyrics have been updated to reference Katrina (“there’s bodies floating on Canal” ) and takes an open-handed swipe at Bush treating his visits to the Gulf Coast as photo-ops.

“Poor Man” isn’t on the Seger Sessions album, one of only a few unrecorded songs Bruce is playing on the tour. The other two in regular rotation are the Pete Seger anti-Viet Nam War song “Bring Our Boys Home (If You Love Uncle Sam)” and the standard “When The Saints Go Marching In”. Hopefully we’ll find some way to get these songs on our iPods soon.


One thought on “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?

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  1. Complete agreement on the Springsteen performance. Imagine him doing that in New Orleans a month ago.I’ve got a version Springsteen put up on his website. How do I get you an mp3?john


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