“Thunder Road” (acoustic version) by Bruce Springsteen

“Thunder Road,” the opening track from Bruce Springsteen’s classic 1975 album, is widely regarded as not only one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs of all-time, but one of the most uplifting and positive ones as well.   However, this version of “Thunder Road” that Springsteen recorded, likely as a demo, is starkly different in tone and feeling.  Without changing any lyrics, this version of “Thunder Road” is mournful and very sad.  Instead of being the inspirational tale of a young couple leaving a small town to make their dreams come true despite the odds against them, this version is a tale of desperation and regret.   And all because of an arrangement that would feel right at home on a Leonard Cohen album.  While the “Born to Run” version of “Thunder Road” will make you feel like you can conquer the world, this acoustic version breaks your heart.

The fact that Springsteen can evoke two different emotions with the same lyrics speaks to his power as a songwriter and performer. As Nick Hornby said about this version of “Thunder Road” in his book “Songbook” (aka “31 Songs”): “It’s slow, and mournful, and utterly convincing: an artist who can persuade you of the truth of what he is singing with either version is an artist who is capable of an awful lot.”

For another contrast, I would also urge you to check out this live version of “Thunder Road” from a 1975 concert at London’s Hammersmith Odeon.  This is closer to the version on “Born to Run,” but it’s mainly done with a solo piano and no rousing guitar work.  Again, it’s not depressing like the acoustic demo discussed earlier, but this version is a lot more melancholy than the version on “Born to Run.”  Apparently, this was the way “Thunder Road” was performed in concert until around 1977 or so.

“Full Metal Jacket Diary” by Matthew Modine (2005 / 2012)

OK, movie nerds with iPads, listen up … There’s an app you must purchase immediately.  It’s Matthew Modine’s “Full Metal Jacket Diary.”  First some background ….

During the making of Stanley Kubricks’s classic 1987 Vietnam War drama “Full Metal Jacket,” lead actor Matthew Modine kept a diary about his experiences while making the film and also shot many photos.  In 2005, Modine compiled his diary entries and photos into a monumentally stunning and awesome metal hardcover coffee table book called “Full Metal Jacket Diary.”  With it’s size, metal cover, and a price of around $50 at the time, it was not going to be a huge bestseller.  But it was highly acclaimed not only because of it’s concept and beauty, but it’s one of the rare day-to-day accounts of what it was like to work on a film set with the legendary and difficult Kubrick.

The book has been out of print for years, but it has been re-released in a very interesting and innovative way: an iPad app. The book has been redesigned with all the text, photos, and now … Modine’s narration … into an immersive audio / visual experience that is incredible, to say the least.  The app’s price of  $9.99 may seem high, but when you consider that you would pay $9.99 or more for an ebook or audiobook … and you get the experience of both in a beautifully constructed new format … it’s actually a terrific bargain.  You can even download the first chapter for free through the iTunes app store if you’re not entirely convinced.

Trust me when I say that if you’re a fan of cinema, this is a must-have app.  And if you don’t have an iPad, I highly recommend buying the audio version of the book through Audible or through Amazon on CD.  Dave says “check it out!”