You probably know, or can surmise, that those colored lines are lyrics from various songs. They are also links to performances that I chose to help give a feel for the range of Springsteen’s work and a sense of the experience.

The texts started coming in Sunday afternoon. Oh no! I just read Bruce’s Albany concert has been postponed! Did your Bruce get canceled? Concert canceled?? My neighbor was on her way to the city for a week of being scholar-in-residence at Brooklyn College when her driver told her about it. She called because she wanted me to hear it from a friend.

Well maybe you’ll be out there on that road somewhere

Before this tour started on February 1, I will confess to having some concerns as to how a 73-year-old man, even Bruce Springsteen—not to mention the rest of the band’s septuagenarian core of extremely hardworking musicians—was going to pull it off.

Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night

But as soon as I read the first reviews of the first shows, I knew I should have kept the faith. I don’t think I’ve ever read as many whole-hearted, full-throated acknowledgments of a theatrical or musical performance—and what he does is both. Then the E Street channel started playing complete recordings of the shows, just days after they happened, and I could hear it for myself.

Talk about a dream, try to make it real

My sense is that he learned a lot from his sojourn on Broadway, where he constructed a scaffold with his spoken words that deepened the stories in his music. On this tour, he’s taking the opposite tack but with interestingly similar effect: he’s cut out almost all the talking and lets the experience of the music and the performances speak for themselves. Without saying much, you can hear him, them, having the time of their lives out there every night.

I’m ready to grow young again

No, it’s not the same kind of what’s he going to do tonight? show as it used to be. There’s certainly no body surfing (which he did as late as the last tour, when he was well into his sixties) and no pulling people (men, women, kids) onstage to dance or sing with him. I don’t think there’s much plucking request signs out of the audience, showing them to the band, and then launching into a spontaneous rendition of something no one had planned to play.

Our spirits rise, to carry the fire and light the spark

And yet, he’s managed to keep the spontaneity and the energy alive, just as he did every night on Broadway. It’s a brilliant act of alchemy, this transforming the vessel to fit the age. It’s still a rock n’ roll revival show, he’s still sharing himself heart and soul and asking us to do the same. And we go with him because he doesn’t deny the darkness and so we all use this venue to turn toward the light.

Let me in, I wanna be your friend, I wanna guard your dreams and visions

In the first weeks of the tour, at least four members of the band were out with Covid. So when I heard the announcement, last Thursday, of the cancelation of that night’s show “due to illness,” it really came as no surprise. There is only one person the show can not go on without and, more than anything else, we all want him to take care of himself. It came as a relief when they finally announced tonight’s cancelation.

Hard times, baby well they come to us all

On top of which, there’s a nor’easter that seems to have settled over Albany today. Outside my window, the snow is falling sideways, and even, occasionally, seems to be trying to return to the sky with an odd upward dancing motion. So for tonight, I’m appreciating the beauty of the whiteness outside, grateful to be home and warm, trusting that one day soon I’ll be back in Bruce World and we’ll all be dancing together again.

Meet me in a land of hopes and dreams

Photo by Ruth Neuwald Falcon

1 Comment

  1. I am Ruth’s friend and neighbor who called en route to NYC to break the news about the Springsteen concert being canceled. This is such a beautiful piece of writing. You have told me about the miraculousness of an in person Bruce performance, but this piece perfectly captures that magic for someone like me who has never experienced it and who has only a passing understanding of Springsteen and the E Street Band’s brilliance. Thank you for this. I look forward to a whole book of your exquisitely crafted words.

    Liked by 1 person

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