Thursday, March 17, 2016

Meeting Across The River

You're asking the wrong guy. If the question to which you want an answer is, "How was the show?" I reiterate: You're asking the wrong guy. Would it matter to me if the show had consisted entirely of eighties covers of songs that bands had casually disregarded by their original artists. I would still line up and pay top dollar for a ticket to hear Bruce Springsteen perform a medley of songs by Ah-Ha and Kajagoogoo. If Bruce picked them, there's probably a darn good reason for them to be on the set list. That is why I didn't flinch when I heard that he would be playing "The River" start to finish on this current tour. A double album full of giddy good time rock and roll as well as a few very pointed slower tunes to give us all a chance to catch our breath. Thanks, Boss.
But as I have already suggested, it really would not have mattered what material he had chosen to play with that band of his. I would have been there, dancing in the aisles and singing along as best as I could. The good news for me, while maybe not the best for those around me, was that "The River" was the second Springsteen album I ever owned. And I wore it out. Sure, some sides got more play than others, but over the years I played that thing to death. My favorite song showed up on side three, second track. I put "Cadillac Ranch" on enough mixed tapes that I internalized those last few notes of "Point Blank" so that I could anticipate the cue and get my finger off the pause button just in time to get the roar of those Eldorado fins, whitewall and skirts. Over decades of seeing Springsteen shows, I have learned to appreciate some of those war horses that have been played eternally while some of those lesser known songs have slipped into Boss obscurity.
Not on this night. They came in rapid fire succession: Twenty songs, twenty-one if you include the B-Side opener "Meet Me In The City Tonight." If you grew up listening to "The River," you were happy. Then came the fusillade of hits. Fourteen more songs that spanned a career from "Growin' Up" to "The Rising." I have sat through concerts that were shorter than the "encore" of this Bruce Springsteen show. And they were fine. This was the real deal. Three and a half hours, give or take, start to finish. As we were filing into the arena, the security folks were hurrying us past the metal detectors because word had come down that we needed to get to our seats so we could all get ourselves back out of them to enjoy the marathon.
There were several times that I was brought to tears as I remembered my associations to this song or that. I held my wife a little closer and we sang along with eighteen thousand other voices. I texted my buddy back on the east coast. I had a moment when I wanted to find a quiet spot to call my mom and share the moment with her. I wanted to write poetry.
I didn't do any of those things because I didn't want to miss a moment. Okay. I slipped out to the men's room during "I'm A Rocker," but that didn't mean I missed a note because the mighty E Street Band rocked the house hard enough that I couldn't, even deep within the concrete bunker that is our basketball arena.
Was it a good show? It was epic. It was exhilarating. It gave me back my youth for three and a half hours. It was joy with a beat you could dance to. It made me think. It made me laugh and cry. Simultaneously. Was it a good show? You're asking the wrong guy. It was beautiful.

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