I went to see Bruce Springsteen for the idon’tknowhowmany-th time last Wednesday night in Hershey with my sister Laurie and my friend Jim Burger and I’ve been wanting to write about it ever since.
As Laurie kept pointing out gleefully that night, it was amazing how many 20-somethings were there, and not just there, but singing along. And so, on this, the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous, maybe THE most famous, reviews ever written about Rock and Roll, I think it’s safe to say, I saw Rock and Roll future and its name is (still) Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.
Funny – I wrote most of the entry below before I went back to find Jon Landau’s exact quote, and I had forgotten about the second sentence above about needing to feel young (geez, he was only 27 when he wrote that and I’m 30 years older than that!). In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen that sentence before, which will make the rest of this post seem all the more significant if you bear with it. But it also reminded me that at one point of the concert, I thought that if I could never hear any other form of music the rest of my life, or never had, I’d be fine with only being able to hear or have heard Bruce, so in that context, here’s more of my thoughts from that night, though probably not all.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Bruce, probably around 15, including 3-4 nights when I sneaked into the Spectrum on the pretense of having to work at Prism on a Phillies game, Prism being a now outdated cable TV station that carried Phillies games and for whom I worked on Flyers games. I’ve seen him in Madison, Wisconsin and at Madison Square Garden…and once in New Jersey at the Meadowlands with Liss and a stoner (former) boyfriend of hers, and other than those and this trip to Hershey, all the other times have been within about a 200 yard radius of Broad & Pattison in Philly, many times in the Spectrum, once at the Vet with Judy, Laurie, Sherry and Gary, and once I think in the parking lot where JFK used to be when he was part of an Amnesty International tour, which was one of my favorite Bruce concerts ever. I went to that concert without a ticket, but bought one outside for less than face value.
As I watched him the other night, I had so many strong emotions running through me, I wished I could pipe them directly from my brain into this blog, both because I had so much to say and because I knew I’d forget a lot of what I was thinking, but I’ll do my best here, 8 days later.
The main thought was about my nephew Skylar, who likes to ask people what their philosophy of life is, and while this doesn’t answer that question, I morphed it into the related question – What is the meaning of life, to which my answer is: Go see a Bruce concert and you won’t need to ever ask anyone that question again. You’ll have found it right where you are.
Obviously Bruce isn’t for everyone. My (step) daughter Evie can’t stand him. Just the sound of his voice starts her muttering like an old man seeing kids walking across his perfect lawn but too tired to yell at them one more time. But that isn’t entirely the point, and the meaning of life isn’t all about Bruce or even his concerts. It’s really about finding that thing, that special thing, and I like to believe that you have at least one, even if you haven’t found it yet, that just makes you feel so incredibly alive and in the moment. Something that heightens all your senses, makes you hyper-focused on nothing and everything at the same time. Something that shuts out every single thing that has weighed on you or has been dragging you down and all you can do is exult and dance and laugh and sing and think of the people you love who you wish could be right there by your side feeling the same things you’re thinking and feeling and reveling in. The same way you feel when you first fall in love, and you want all the world to know. THAT is the meaning of life.
I was texting and emailing with Cheryl (though only a handful of times) during the concert. She couldn’t come because she wasn’t (and still isn’t) feeling fully healed from her hysterectomy last month. And at one point, I looked at my emails to see if she’d sent a new one and I saw all the most recent emails that had come in since I’d checked it last. They were a mix of political emails, WCFS-related emails, work emails. And I was struck by how unimportant all of those things were in the scheme of what I was feeling right then and there, all shook up over Bruce and reminded me of all that is and isn’t truly important in life.
I have felt that way before in other settings when my emotions were similar but importantly different. I remember once going to a college basketball game with Mike Rellahan at the Palestra – the college basketball shrine. The game itself was insignificant to me - I think it was St. Joes vs Temple. But as the two teams came out for warm-ups, students were screaming, bands were playing as loud as they could, both schools trying to out-scream, out-play and out-loud each other, and I was so caught up in the intensity of emotions all around me, I had that same sense of heightened awareness, like all my senses just switched to higher levels and I became so much more aware of every nerve ending in my body, every synapse in my brain and every emotional strand running around in my pulsating bod.
Hmm…sound like anything else? Yeah, sex can and should be like that too, and it has been, fer sure, with Cheryl on many occasions, but I guess when you’re fully clothed and out in public where you aren’t expecting it to happen to you, it is all the more magnified and seems so much more significant…and blog-worthy. J