Aug 082010

How did The Boss bring rock ‘n roll from this point in history to His band’s glorious state of Rock ‘n Roll Iwo Jima? The building blocks had been in place for decades, as rock artists attempted to construct their stage alignments in ways that best represented The Power and Glory of Rock. Working back in time, it’s clear that this had been an objective of the E Street Band for years.

Post-9/11 healing necessitated a full-blown attempt at finding rock’s ultimate stage alignment. The Boss’ tours regularly featured a phalanx of E Streeters.

The Rock ‘n Roll Phalanx blossomed with classic ’70s rock bands, like Lynyrd Skynyrd and their 3-guitar attack.

It probably dates back further than that, with ’50s artists like Little Richard packing in his band members and picking up on the occasional choreography of Big Band-era horn sections. From its earliest days Springsteen and His E Street Band committed to this model, beginning with a more humble Rock ‘n Roll Fife and Drum approach before calling in the Rock ‘n Roll Cavalry.

The Boss could have cruised into the present day with His band’s assortment of phalanx alignments, but what pushed Him into redefining rock stage alignments were the closing images from this famous rock movie:


  13 Responses to “Rock ‘n Roll Iwo Jima”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    A timeless post, and a welcome addition to the RTH Glossary of Terms, Mod. Just one thing: it’s spelled “cavalry.”

  2. I want to suggest that a true Rock Iwo Jima requires both a tilted mic stand and an upraised arm from one of the triumphal crew.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    Corrected, hrrundi. Thanks. After 2 days spent blazing through the southern regions of Colorado we’re settled in New Mexico. Even the boys are growing beards for this trip. This part of the country is AMAZING! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    New Mexico totally kicks ass. Me and the missus took the Airstream down there last year. Hope you’re doing nearby stuff, too, like Canyon de Chelly in AZ. Willyou be doing Mesa Verde? It’s pretty boss, too. Love the desert Southwest!

  5. Mr. Moderator

    We’re now based in Taos for the week. We drove from Denver to Alamosa yesterday and then climbed giant sand dunes near there this morning. We stopped at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, or whatever it’s called, about a half hour ago. I just love the land in this part of the country. My oldest son and I have already begun discussions about the need to buy leather cowboy hats.

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    Glad (?) to see you’re passing on the fine floppy leather hat tradition on to your son. I must correct you, however: proper “cowboy hats” are made of pressed felt — sometimes straw. I suppose there could be a few made of leather, but these would be gimmicks, I think. Teach your children well!

  7. Mr. Moderator

    What’s the material of the hat Eastwood wears in those Sergio Leone movies? You callin’ Clint a gimmicky sort? Regardless, I like the cut of that hat. We will look into straw hats, but the Peace Warriors don’t wear the traditional pressed felt hats of traditional cowboys. It’s just not right, man.

  8. BigSteve

    I can dig the Phalanx concept, but I always thought the Rock Iwo Jima meant hoisted/crossed guitars a la Blue Oyster Cult. I can only find this photo to give some idea of what I mean:

    Isn’t there a more famous album cover shot of them doing this kind of thing where the guitars are held higher, more like a flag being raised?

  9. Mr. Moderator

    Just two guitarists dueling like that don’t have the uplifting Iwo Jima effect. I’m not sure what the military procedure is called, but what BOC does is more like that stuff military groups do for show – when the one guy in the silver helmet calls out something and everyone flips his gun or cocks it.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    I think eh is onto something!

  11. 1)Roy Bittan is not dead. The E Street Band did however, lose keyboardist Danny Federici to melanoma in 2008. 2)I do remember seeing Blue Oyster Cult do what they called “The Five Guitar Attack” where each member would strap on an guitar, line up across the stage and belt out some jam. I cannot recall what they would play, but it was pretty cool and only outdone by thier spectacular laser extravaganza.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    pepe, I STAND CORRECTED! Roy Bittan has long added nothing to the music of The Boss. The organ guy, on the other hand, was more useful since Born to Run. Thanks.

  13. alexmagic

    I challenge the focal guitar aspect of a properly-executed Rock Iwo Jima. What’s needed is multiple (at least four?) band members in proximity, preferably leaning on one another, in a way that creates a slanted pyramid/triangle design.

    The apex of a Rock Iow Jima could be a a guitar up where the flag would be, but when executed by the E-Street Band, I’d say the apex of the Rock Iwo Jima is most likely to be the Big Man’s raised saxaphone or (best case scenario and most befitting of comparison to the American flag) Springsteen’s head.

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