As we wallow away our days during the pandemic of 2020, we all find ways to keep our sanity and, for some of us, our ever-present ebullient spirit. I had an experience that directed my thoughts to what would really make me happy. I want to be at a Springsteen concert.
Knowing that not everyone is a lover of the “other” Bruce, please stick with me here. I guarantee it will be worth it.
I was watching a Netflix DVD entitled Blinded by the Light. I put it on my queue months ago; it finally rose to the top and shipped to my house. It is the relatively true story of a Pakistani young man in the 1980’s trying to find his way in a small town outside of London to adapt to the modern world. This was a world where his father wanted to drag him back to the old customs and few of the locals accepted him or his kind. This teenager then found Bruce.
He devotes a large amount of his time developing his writing skills and expanding his appreciation of how Springsteen speaks to him and his struggles. The rest of the story I will leave you to see for yourself, but it got me to thinking.
In these miserably challenging times, I want to be at a Bruce concert. I want to feel the joy and the power of the E Street Band creating the wall of sound behind Bruce singing one of his classic songs. The energy that flows from the stage and is reflected back from the crowd creates a unique experience.
It is not as if there aren’t other wonderful entertainers. I have said for years that it is chemically impossible to walk out of an Earth, Wind and Fire concert without a huge smile on your face. Or, recently, we saw The Killers and it was a marvelous Rock concert. I saw the Who a few months back and was so moved I cried through a large part of the performance of Tommy, where the band was supported by a 70-piece orchestra. I have seen them all except for the man himself, Elvis.
There is something so unique and singular about seeing Bruce. The last time I saw him and the band, they did four hours (no break) at the very last performance at the iconic Sports Arena in Los Angeles. I marveled at how Max Weinberg, the world-famous drummer, sat on that chair the entire time expending all that energy, driving the sound of the band. I had the chance to ask two famous drummers, Danny Seraphine (Chicago) and another world-famous drummer (who recently became a client): how did Max do the four hours? One would think he would be exhausted. Neither drummer could explain it.
While watching the movie I pulled out my 20+ Springsteen CDs, deciding I needed an immersion after the movie. Then I paused the movie to listen to and then watch Bruce’s performance (via YouTube) closing out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary show. If you have not seen this, you should grab your computer and watch.
The performance isn’t even a Springsteen song thus demonstrating his great reverence for those who preceded him. The song they did is (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. The song was originally recorded by the great Jackie Wilson. As marvelous as Wilson’s recording is, this one puts it to shame.
The stage did not just have Bruce and the E Street Band, but it was packed with the likes of Billy Joel, John Fogerty, the great Sam Moore (Sam and Dave), the magnificent Darlene Love, Jackson Brown, Tom Morello and a slew of others. The energy on stage singing this classic soul song will radiate from your computer. And as the energy reaches levels unimaginable, Bruce commands the band to bring it up now 1, 2, 3 — Max raises the beat even higher and the joy level breaks the meter. They finish the song and Bruce says, “Now that is Rock ‘n’ Roll.” This recording is truly a two-fer (you must listen to it twice).
Then I thought COVID-19, you are not going to break my spirit. There is too much to live for, to experience, to share and enjoy. We will conquer you; you will not conquer us.
For you — whether it is a Bruce concert that elevates your mind or something else, there is too much joy in life. The Beautiful Wife and I watched the timeless film from 1967, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. What a magnificent, ground breaking, joyful movie. If you have not seen it, watch. If you haven’t for years, watch it again. If you can tell me the real name of Sidney Poitier’s love interest without searching the internet, I will buy you lunch. She shares the screen with three giants — Hepburn, Tracy and Poitier.
It is easy to be blue these days. Until the weather warms and the virus dissipates, we will face challenges many of us have never seen. Just think of your Springsteen concert and drift away into a joyous moment to which you will soon get back. Very soon. May your life be filled with two-fer’s.
P.S. God Bless Billy Withers. I saw him in the early 1970’s at the Troubadour. He had an opening act – The Pointer Sisters. Those were the days. While the press is lauding him for Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean On Me, I suggest you sit down with a loved one and listen to A Lovely Day (available on YouTube). A definite two-fer.