This semi-regular series alternates between Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen songs that perfectly complement a good bourbon and a quality book. You can make your own suggestions and recommendations in the comments section or by tweeting @WritersBone.
Dave: Ahh finally, “Waitin' on a Sunny Day!” This is an all-time favorite song of mine even before I became a proper Bruce Springsteen fan. This song will always remind me of my sophomore year of college: spring on the quad, new major, new girl. As a result, it always brings a mournful reminder of all the good things in this world and why all the suffering we go through individually and as a society is worth it. In my opinion, it’s the best track of Springsteen’s 2002 heartache “The Rising,” an album that helped mend the open wounds for many Americans. Following the solemn and grave “Into the Fire,” “Waitin' on a Sunny Day” wades light into the rest of the album. Just the drum beat open can lift my day in a way that, honestly, only Bruce can accomplish.
Daniel: It won’t be surprising to our readers that I prefer the live version of this song. While working at JCK magazine, I’d signal I was in a good mood by buying a round of coffees from Pret A Manger, getting high on caffeine, and blasting this song on my computer. It never failed to inspire creativity, especially when the British kid starts belting it out at the top of his lungs (starts at 3:53). As an added bonus, I would be so hopped up on rock ‘n’ roll and coffee that I would incite former intern and Writer’s Bone contributor Hailey Reissman into debating inane topics only I would find interesting.
This tune also reminds me of my freshman year at St. John’s University. I bought “The Rising” right before I left home and played the album everyday on my way to classes. I felt pretty badass walking around Queens with my Sony Discman, when it actuality I probably looked like a huge nerd. It didn’t matter because I had Bruce lighting my way.
Dave: I have been coveting trying this bourbon for months. On an excursion to New Hampshire I found a bottle in the magical and heavenly place that is the New Hampshire State Liquor store. I bought the bottle as a birthday gift for my brother, a consummate bourbon guy. We opened it on New Year’s Eve, smelling the cork and bottle before tasting. To our frustration, we caught little to no scent. We were crushed and entirely dubious of this purported top shelf bourbon. We were entirely surprised. This is quite possibly the smoothest bourbon I have ever tasted. It got the right amount of smoky oak flavors, the right amount of vanilla, and it goes down without a hitch. Smooth taste isn’t a huge surprise for a single barrel bourbon, but I could have easily downed half the bottle before crawling to the bathroom. Blanton’s is sold in its signature small egg shaped bottle with a metal figure of a man on a horse attached to the cork stopper. Blanton makes eight different types of this cork, each with the horse in different positions. So if you line then up in order you get a stop motion scene of a horse in full gallop!
Be warned, you’re going to have to shell out some dough for a small bottle, upwards of $50.00. But if you consider yourself a bourbon fiend, Blanton’s is an absolute must. It is certainly a more than adequate pair with this top shelf Bruce song, especially if you need to chase those blues away!
Daniel: Max Hastings is one of my favorite historians. His book on the Korean War inspired me to delve into that conflict for my master’s thesis (completion expected sometime in 2024). He has a fluid style that makes historical eras accessible for the modern reader.
Hastings’ Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War lacks some of the breeziness of his past works in large part because the beginning of World War I is so complicated. It also didn’t help that I don’t know that much about World War I and struggled to keep all the alliances straight.
However, here are some stats that made me start hitting the bourbon pretty hard:
- “In 312 hours 11,000 trains carried 119,754 officers, 2.1 million men, and 600,000 horses across Germany to concentration areas on the frontiers of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.”
- One in six Serbs was killed during World War I, “the highest proportion of the population of any belligerent nation to perish in the conflict.”
- Between Aug. 20 and Aug. 23, “40,000 French soldiers died.” By Aug. 29, “total French casualties since the war began reached 260,000, including 75,000 dead.”
The French soldiers weren’t helped by the fact they went to battle wearing bright blue coats and red pants. They also marched out a poor musical troupe to announce the army’s presence. German machine guns took care of that noise in a hurry.
This might not be the easiest read, for a variety of reasons, but it’s an important one. Besides, there are only so many valuable reading options for this time of year. What, are you going to attempt Infinite Jest for the third time? Come on, get serious.
For more Bruce/Bob, Bourbon, and Books, check out our full archive.