Bruce Springsteen: Gallant

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.

10 comments:

Melissa Sarno said...

You were there! So cool :)

Serena said...

sounds like you had a great time and it was all you hoped and more!

patti.mallett_pp said...

You so often have the power to bring me to tears. This time you have half the power. The other half comes from my own lived/similar stolen-in-the-night Joys.

Thank you she writes with tears dribbling down a wrinkled cheek. This time your joy is my joy. xo

pepper white said...

Such an incredible night! My husband and I crossed the river from NJ just to check out the scene and *maybe* go in if we could find some cheap tickets. (Two kids in college, need I say more?)
We were the benefactors of A Random Act of Kindness when a total stranger handed us two tickets to the show of a lifetime.
Thanks for your recap - loved every second of this performance. We always come away from an evening spent surrounded by the power and passion of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with a renewed spirit and cleansed soul. Words have not yet been invented that adequately describe or convey the feeling of the experience. You have to be there! Glad you finally were. What took you so long?! : )

Erin said...

this is so gorgeous, and i am so exceedingly glad for you to have experienced this.

Michael G-G said...

I hope he'll always have the power to stop the rain.

Beautiful piece of writing.

Florinda Pendley Vasquez said...

I have yet to experience this, but I'm glad you have, and that (as always) you shared it with us so eloquently! I love that you were there, and that it really was all it was supposed to be.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

What a glorious night, Beth! A night you'll never forget.

And I've just begun SMALL DAMAGES and am reveling in *your* glorious words that are singing across the page.

Kittysbak@gmail.com said...

Hi Beth,
This old friend was listening to 'Wrecking Ball' via LP this evening when thoughts drifted to Springsteen enthusiasts old and new. Well, out popped my iPad and into google I typed Beth Sulit. What has she been doing all these years I thought?
Wow, a bit overwhelmed to see so many literary accolades, books readily available and this wonderful blog. As I made my way to September (notably 3 & 4) I felt compelled to type away. What joy to read about your experience. Your ability to capture and articulate the passion of Springsteen and his music is nothing short of moving. With 41 shows behind me (I won't quit if he doesn't), it is still nothing short of pure pleasure to connect with those who share such enthusiasm. I too was lucky enough to spend Labor Day weekend at CBP (floor seats not too far from you).
As with any show featuring the E Street Band, 3 or 4 hours becomes a soul lifting experience. How great it feels to become part of something bigger than yourself.
As for me, I still feel the roller coaster excitement each night waiting out the set list. Will tonight be 'Point Blank'? Can I finally check that off my list? Philly thrilled as it always does, and 'Frankie' and an incredible '78 intro to 'Prove It All Night' were just what the doctor ordered.
Thanks for capturing the essence and allowing others to share. The next time the machine rolls into town I'll be keeping my eye out for the one singing hard and out loud knowing we speak the same language and hoping to connect.

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