For the first time on my blog I am moving outside my sport column to my other passion of music. I feel compelled to share why I believe, now more than ever, Bruce Springsteen is important. This is not a concert review, though it will share some highlights from what was, after 27 years of concert going, the single greatest night of rock 'n roll I have witnessed last Friday night at MSG (4-6-12 BTW: 23 years after my first Dead show!) No, this is a reflection on why his music resonates and why it is important to listen to in these times of loud headlines, little substance, short thoughts.
I didn't grow up with The Boss. I remember The River release. I definitely lived Born in the USA in grade 8. But I never absorbed what he was saying. Never understood what the deal was. As I was rolling into my 30's I started to listen more intently to Bruce. It started with The Rising, his release post 9/11 and the first in 18 years with the E-Street Band. This record reminded me why I loved music like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, U2, and of course my beloved Grateful Dead. Simply put, music to me is about storytelling for our times. I learned listening to The Rising that through music we can tell stories that mean something that can, in turn, create change and enact action. I haven't felt that really ever on a mass scale like perhaps those in the 60s did. I always lived and breathed what I learned in my home growing up and on the road with The Dead; love, respect, hard work, giving. But as The Dead scene grew out of its skin and into a freak show those final years I was getting disenchanted with what music was becoming both within my scene, and outside on the charts.
Then I saw this video of Bruce & the E-Street singing My City of Ruins. As the story goes Bruce was on the Jersey shore watching NYC literally crumble. A car drove up and said, "Bruce, we need you now more than ever". That was it, Bruce put the band back together and wrote a record I think (now I have listened to all his records) is his best. This song was in his pocket as I understand it, but he pulled it out and played that night and moved a nation.
This song moves me because yes we can create and enact change with these hands come on, come on, come on rise up
I finally saw Bruce in 2009 in Toronto at the ACC. I studied for that show and learned that the press are not over blowing how his music speaks for the masses; the middle hard working class that fight and scrap for every dog bone they get in life. I grew up from a family of coal miners. Hard work is DNA. 1 minute into Badlands that night I was sold. I turned to Meredith and said, "I get it now. I get why he's called The Boss". It shook me deeply that night from Badlands, to Rosolita I was all in. It was about Love. Respect. Hard Work. Giving. Bruce sang it, played it. lived it. And the journey spoke to me as I was working hard at work to move ahead, to live and breath easy. I loved my job then and a year later I was closing shop courtesy of the USA meltdown.
Poor man wanta be rich, rich man want to be king, the king ain't satisfied till he rules everything
For the next few years I listened more intently to his music. From Thunder Road's this town's for losers and we're blowing out of here to win to the new album Wrecking Ball's Gambling man rolls the dice, workingman pays the bill his music rings a solid truth in our culture. That is, what gets us by is love, respect, hard work, giving.
Now to be clear, The Boss makes more money than some up on bankers hill <where> the party's going strong but where Bruce separates himself from that top 1%; or probably 0.5%, is his uncanny ability to connect blue collar with white collar, and never ever forget where he came from. I think that is what the connection is in this house. Never forgetting where I came from. The welsh valleys. Hard coal miner types. Rugby players. Beer drinkers!
Bruce is famous for his Jersey roots. Here he links us back to where it ALL STARTED. Soul Music. 634-5789 with a few brown pops and a crowd surf at age 62! Love. Respect. Hard work. Giving.
And in closing, the connection between stage and crowd is what makes music so lifting, a gift of what is possible. The Boss is not forgetting what got him here. Him, his band, his fans and the Big Man.
We went uptown and the BIG MAN JOINED THE BAND! A celebration with his band mates, his friends, and hard working paying customers.
In conclusion, if you don't or haven't listened to Bruce Springsteen I encourage you to google search his lyrics. I will guarantee you will find a connection from what he speaks to what you live.
For me, its LOVE. RESPECT. HARD WORK. GIVING.