I got a note the other day from a friend of mine who had received the following dispatch from a friend of his who was at Springsteen's show in Portland last week. It's a good one. And with permission, I'm re-printing it here:
Andrea and I saw Bruce Springsteen perform 45 hours ago in Portland (11/28/12) and I'm still high. It was magical. On the drive back to Seattle, Andrea and I sang along to his Greatest Hits package turned up loud....road trip rhapsody with your best girl and virtual fuzzy dice. We saw him twice in the late 70s at small venues in Chicago, 10 years ago in Tacoma and now Portland. He puts on the most amazing show of anyone in music...Stones included. In Portland it was 26 songs - 3 hours and 12 minutes - with no break! At 63 he is still jumping off the piano to start a song. I only made it to the 2nd song before I started crying which occurred simultaneously while singing at the top of my lungs on the chorus to "No Surrender" ... a cathartic anthem for me.
Once we made a promise we swore we'd always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Blood brothers in a stormy night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender
My floodgates opened again towards the end of the show when the opening drum crack and cascading guitars of Born to Run hit my reptilian brain while screaming the words in St. Vitus dance abandon. Fans write song requests on placards which he collects and he played 5 of them. One sign request asked for "Growing Up" in honor of a 50th birthday. Bruce called the man to the stage and they shared the mic singing one of the verses. He called up a group of women who had a banner that said "lesbians love Bruce" and who wore matching t-shirts. They danced to "Darlington County". The main floor is a seatless general admission area. He walked into the middle of that crowd and from a platform, did a trust fall onto upraised hands. He was crowd surfed from person to person while singing "Hungry Heart" the whole way back to the stage. Does any performer connect with this audience on such an intimate level?
At one point he said, "Tomorrow your feet are gonna hurt, your voice will be shot and your back will ache but your sexual organs will be fired up". Dylan speaks to my brain; Springsteen to my heart and balls. He's that kid who knows what it's like to spend hard earned cash on a concert or a record...and he's gonna repay you for doing so. He's credible because he's still a fan.
Don't the following 2-word song titles from the Portland show tell you all you need to know about him or you: No Surrender, Hungry Heart, Wrecking Ball, Growin' Up, Shackled and Drawn, and Thunder Road? I've been to New Orleans and sat transfixed by the passion and harmony of gospel church choirs. Springsteen's songs are a sermon where he's the preacher at the Church of Rock N Roll.
Ask any boomer if they don't like to think of themselves as that 20 year old. However if you want to feel 20, rather than think it, see the Ponce de Leon of pop. You don't have to know Springsteen's music or even like it but I guarantee you that if you go to a concert you will be joyfully moved and profoundly touched by what he transmits.
Hail Hail Rock N Roll,
Johnny B. Goode