The figurative language of Jesse Green….

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

Jesse Green writes for the New York Times. Today, I discuss his great facility with figurative language…

I stopped paying attention to contemporary music in 1979 when I graduated from university. I didn’t stop listening but I stopped caring about the names of the songs and the performers and the whole business associated with music. I no longer jumped up and down when my favourite song came on the radio; in fact, I no longer had a favourite song.

Even though jazz is currently my major interest (and I like to argue that you should write like a jazz musician plays), Bruce Springsteen caught me in the final years of my teenage obsession with popular music. Like millions of others, the soundtrack of Born To Run formed part of the soundtrack of my young life.

These days, my interest in Springsteen relates more to his fascinating decision to mount a small Broadway play, telling his life story. As a result, I read Oct. 12/17 review in the New York Times by Jesse Green with considerable interest.

Here’s what surprised me most: Jesse Green’s facility with figurative language. (That’s Green pictured at the top of this post.)

Here are my favourite examples from the review:

  • [The audience] started clapping along to “Dancing in the Dark,” Mr. Springsteen’s biggest hit, from 1984. He stopped cold. “I’ll handle it myself,” he said, shutting them down with a small, sharky glint of a smile.
  • Even his five-decade career has been a “magic trick,” turning the unpromising tools of his cheese-grater voice and “hideous” appearance into a vehicle for the primal rock message that “fun is a birthright.”
  • On Heather Wolensky’s abandoned warehouse set, under Natasha Katz’s deeply shadowed lighting, Mr. Springsteen comes off as the kind of character he often writes about: a pink-slipped worker in a shuttered factory in a dying industry. 
  • Perhaps, like a priest, he enjoys the ritual. He does call music his “service,” his “long and noisy prayer.”

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Oct. 19/17.

Scroll to Top