He understood me.
And it wasn't long before I fell hard for this guy. The relationship has been one of the longest and most meaningful of my life-- thirty four freakin' years.
But we've never met.
He doesn't even know I exist.
* * *
My older brothers, who had turned me on to music like The Band and Frank Zappa could not stop raving about his brilliance. Initially, I found his voice a bit too intense, but it was when I was 18 and living a year of hell in Texas, I heard him on the radio and my heart stopped.
The song was Fire.
The man, Bruce Springsteen.
And that song was the mating call that began a love that has never died.
saw this version on the tour this video is taken from: yep, lucky
I write this from my new home country, New Zealand, where I just attended the Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band concert on March the 1st. Not sure how many times I've seen him--I've lost count--every one has been life-affirming.
The first was for the album The River at SIU-Carbondale and was the "closest" experience I ever had, convinced that Clarence Clemons and I shared a moment of connection.
I saw another concert on The River tour in St. Louis as well and there my desire to attend every Springsteen concert possible began.
The memory of seeing the performance of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, around Christmas, live, so many years ago, with Clarence wearing the Santa hat, still can bring a tear to my eye. How lucky was I?
my lucky cousin & The Boss
Genetic, I guess, at the same point in time my cousin was having some up close and personal encounters with The Boss which I was never able to muster.
Luck at obtaining sweet seats to his shows was never my forte.
Stamina for the wait was probably my downfall.
I loved him that much, but it felt like such a gamble to wait for front row tickets for the full day many would stand in line, then to likely be pushed aside, or go to pee and return to not being able to push your way back to your place.
That doesn't mean there haven't been Bruce miracles.
Seeing The Rising concert twice on tour was the healing elixir we needed from a credible source post 9/11.
I hadn't been to church for years, until that concert.
My oldest boys and I experienced the gift of seeing Danny Frederici's last performance in Indianapolis.
Sandy was exquisite.
When Danny died shortly thereafter, it became clear that the Indy performance must have been of the "last wish" variety.
And the love on that stage between Bruce and Danny was palatable. I felt like I had been invited into a very special last rite.
Ironically, that would be the last time I would see Clarence Clemons perform live as well.
Not immune to life's hard knocks, death had begun to visit the E Street Band.
After the fiasco of getting tickets for this Auckland gig, I decided that I needed to accept the fact that this might be my last Springsteen concert. For $400 per ticket (a mark up from the original price, bought and resold through Ticketmaster-- purchased in the moments after they went on sale as you do since a sell out can occur quickly-- to later find out we could have gotten better, later released, tickets for $175), in our occluded view nose bleed seats, I sat looking through binoculars that, befittingly, wouldn't focus appropriately so I squinted through one eye most of the show.
And I closely watched the reactions of those lucky attendees close to the stage, happy for them, but still envious that I will die never having that experience.
As he gently pulled a very greying elder woman onto the stage, my heart grabbed-- there is always hope.
Bruce, looking more fit than I've seen him in the last several years, and his voice resoundingly pure and sweet, absent of the gravel of over-usage I heard the last time I saw him, looked the picture of eternal health.
How much does his manic touring of the past few years have to do with him facing his own, and his band member's, mortality?
I imagine a lot.
One thing that is clear, and I am sure, why I can feel so intimately connected with this man I have never met-- he's on that stage as much for himself and the high of the experience as he is to give back to all of us.
He IS on fire.
Bruce, I just wanted to say that me and millions of others really can say we love you.
Like, really love you.
You've stood for surviving a less than hope-full beginning, as well as ethics and kindness and compassion for our fellow citizens of this planet.
You've lived a blissed out life (with, I'm sure a fair share of messes) and you've shared amazingly insightful writing and performances.
You've navigated fame with class unsurpassed.
And you've taken good care of your E Street family.
Concerts before, I would stand and have my eyes peeled-- where do they exit after the show? Where do they go as they are mysteriously swooped away?
This concert, one benefit of my nosebleed seat on the edge was that I watched as the many members of the band filed out of the back of the stadium grounds.
Then, I gasped.
There was Little Stevie Van Zandt walking a few paces in front of Bruce with a white towel around his shoulders. I shrieked my hallmark piercing whistle and they both looked up and waved. I missed getting The Boss's wave on film, but through the blur, I think you'll see-- me and Stevie had a moment.
Arriving home at 3:00 am, I fell asleep hard, and as I have so many other times before, I dreamed of Bruce and Patti. Like usual, these aren't lust-full dreams, but dreams that set my family up as very connected to him and his people-- like part of their family, doing normal day-to-day activities.Connected.
Weird dreams for being about someone you've never really met, aye?
He's just an extremely hard-working, talented guy with a wife and kids and a band of best friends and has the world's best interest at heart-- blessed and knows it.
What's not to love?
* * *
Click here to see an overview of the show: Bruce Springsteen, March 1st, Auckland.
Here is the video I shot of Bruce opening up with an acoustic version of Lorde's Royals:
And in true, Springsteen fashion, out of respect, he covers NZ's Lorde's Royal in his own special way: "and every fuckin songs like . . ."