Something amazing happened three nights ago. Bruce Springsteen gave me a little insight into his life and he played awesome music. Just for me. I suppose I was being nice when I let the other 900+ folks in. Regardless, he was only playing for me. He sang directly to me the entire night. I was floored. Obliterated. Inspired. Uplifted. Moved to tears. I wonder if everyone else in the audience knew he was only playing for me.
This was not a concert.
There was none of the singing along, clapping, and in general losing your mind that happens at a Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band show. This felt more like a little morsel of knowledge being shared.
I am not going to give you a play by play review of the show. I am not going to attempt to breakdown the format and what it all meant. I am not a music or theater critic. That’s not my job. I am just a fan.
Before the show a crowd was waiting behind the barriers outside the stage door. There were several security guys and an adorable dog keeping everyone where they should be. Mostly it was a lot of “stay on the sidewalk, please” and “behind the barrier.” They were nice guys. I was standing across the street because I did not see any point in standing at the back of the pack.
Finally a black Surburban pulls up to the curb and out comes Bruce. He walked over to the barrier and started signing autographs. He signed several and both sides before he went into the theater. I was a little disappointed because a car pulled in front of me and then a tall guy decided to stand between me and my favorite rock star EVER! I have it on video. The video is not all that interesting to anyone besides me, so of course I texted it to a couple of people and posted it on Facebook.
It was almost time to go into the venue when I suddenly had a very real fear that my ticket might not be good. I had bought it on a whim that morning on Stubhub. I have not actually bought very many tickets on Stubhub, but I had read a couple of reviews for this particular show saying they had invalid tickets. I was feeling a little nauseous at the thought of having driven almost six hours to NYC for nothing.
I know. I know I shouldn’t be rewarding people for selling their tickets at a jacked up price. It makes it harder for people to get to see their favorite band. I also know that sometimes if you want something in demand bad enough you can get it if you are willing to pay. I typically do not partake in this behavior. I try to get tickets to things through legitimate outlets. Sometimes that doesn’t work.
So, I walked up to the usher scanning tickets and held my breath. It was good. I nearly wept with relief and headed up the stairs to the mezzanine. I was on the left side, top row, aisle seat. How lucky was I?
I met my seat mates and started chatting with the usher handing out Playbills. He was a great usher, we had a really cool conversation. I wish I had asked for his number, he would be a great friend to have. Super nice guy. Funny and excited about so many of the things I get excited about. He is definitely my favorite kind of person.
While I was standing there, wearing a T-shirt with a skull on it, a woman came up and started asking me questions like I was working there too! The usher laughed about how they can never keep me in my uniform, and we started talking about how excited we were for the show. She had a seat down in the box she had just purchased. She invited me to come down if no one ended up sitting beside her when the show started. (Surprise! I got to sit there for the first 4 or 5 minutes of the show. Then, some guy showed up. I was only mildly dismayed. I trudged back up the stairs both disappointed and excited that I was so close.)I was probably less than 20 yards from Bruce during that time. It is likely a good thing I could not stay the whole time because it is a little hard to breathe when you are that close to your hero.
The show was about 2 hours long and every song was played different than I have heard it before. Imagine if Bruce was on Storytellers back in the day, and then make it about a million times cooler than VH1 ever thought about being. Except I just Googled and it turns out Bruce did Storytellers in 2005. This was better, I assure you. I wasn’t there in 2005, so Bruce would have held back just a smidge. I feel pretty confident he saves a little something just for me.
I openly wept when he played “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and spoke of how much he loved and missed Clarence Clemons. I felt like I was being reminded to remember certain people and the impact they made on my life. I was reminded to be grateful.
He spoke about the Vietnam War. He shared stories about his parents and his feelings about the state of our nation today. He told us about being a kid in Catholic school. Throughout the night I heard a lot of stories and songs like “Dancing in the Dark” became much deeper and more important than I had ever given them credit for. I was listening to words and applying them to my life as more than a dude asking some girl for a dance.
Perhaps the anthems of my childhood will continue to evolve and grow as I mature and gain more perspective.
By the end of the night I was essentially speechless. I had run the gamut of emotions ranging from excited, nervous, thrilled, sad, wistful, happy, lonely, fulfilled, the list can keep going on. I could have sat there for another several hours if he could have just kept telling me about these songs.
I loved Bruce when I saw him in 2016 in Albany on The River tour. The crowd was electric and everyone was just as excited as I was to be seeing him.
This show was different. The crowd was excited but this felt more serious. It was almost as if he had something important we all needed to learn. The small theater was calm and receptive to the experience. I know I was just content to just listen and go along with my emotions through the whole thing.
In the end I was inspired. I felt the need to be a better person. I realized I want to work harder and reach my full potential in every area of my life. I want to use every skill I have to make a positive impact on the world. They may have just been one man’s songs and stories, but his words made me think.
I hope he knows there are people out there who appreciate his art, and I am grateful he chose to share it with me. (Remember, it was just me at that show if you ignore the fact there were over 900 other people there.) I am a true music lover. I just have zero musical talent. None. Nada. Zilch.
I know I will never get the chance to hang out with Bruce Springsteen, this is probably as close as I will ever get. It was worth the drive. It was worth the money. It was a night I will never forget.