Tuesday, September 4, 2012
What hasn't been said about Bruce Springsteen live? He sweats through to the bottom of his boots for you. He yields the microphone to little girls in pink cowboy hats who have the nerve to sing a sunny day. He talks about ghosts, and he pounds his heart for redheads. He plays "The River" for a soldier in Afghanistan and an obscure tune for a guy with a sign. He's already laughing with the Phillies crowd before he mentions the opposing team—stars in his eyes kind of smile, though, man, he's been going like this with his Wrecking Ball Tour for so long that you don't know how he's even standing, how he gets those guitars, one after another, strapped on, how the mike doesn't fly out of his grip. He bows his head beside Clarence Clemons's nephew, Jake, and you know he feels the uncle's presence like a prayer, and he is ageless, a stuck Catholic, a confessing romantic, a professor of truth, a scorcher and a crooner, still running, still dancing, still ad libbing, still performing. He's not out of breath, but you are, and he has the power (I'm telling you) to stop the rain.
I was there.
That is what has not, until this moment, been written about Springsteen. I was there. Having waited since I was eighteen years old. Having worked all those years to convince my husband. Having finally bought the tickets and made the announcement, We're going, because I had an excuse, this little talk I plan to give (thanks to April Lindner) at the Glory Days Symposium a few short weeks from now. I had to go. It was business this time. And besides, this girl is getting old.
Good Lord, it was better, it was richer, it was deeper, it was more hallowed than even I thought it could be. And I never sat down, though I had seats. And I danced—by myself and with the crowd. And I sang—hard and out loud. And late, late at night, walking back through the city with my husband and a couple of kids just out of school, I talked Old Springsteen Love with Young Springsteen Love, and let me tell you this: We spoke the same language.
The shard below, blogged in early August, is snapped from what I'd written in theory for my Springsteen paper, "Raw to the Bone." Every once in a while, in this life, I get it right. I was right when I danced Springsteen alone in my house, and I was right last night, dancing with Philly:
The music will rise through the soles of my feet. It will scour, channel, silt, and further rise. In the dark cavern of my hips it will catch and swish. Outside, perhaps, the stars have come up, and probably the deer have vanished, and maybe the cicadas are rumbling around in their own mangled souls. But inside, a river churns, widens, roars, and steeps, and I am dancing Springsteen.Bruce Springsteen. Wrecking Ball Tour. Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia. September 3, 2012.
I was there.