I was lucky enough to score a ticket when they went on sale for Bruce Springsteen on Broadway a few weeks back. He’s trying to give a shot in the arm to the City, as well as do something for his fans in the aftermath of the worst of the pandemic. I can’t really say it’s over; it’s more like people are feeling safe enough to be in groups if they are vaccinated (and you had to show your vaccination card and ID to get into the theater).
I’ve been a Springsteen fan nearly my whole life. The first album I ever bought on my own, with my own money, was Born To Run. To me, it’s a perfect album. There’s no weak song in the bunch. Thunder Road is my all-time favorite song. It felt like “you ain’t a beauty, but, hey, you’re alright” was written for me.
I didn’t see the first rendition of Springsteen on Broadway. It was likely due a myriad of factors including events in my life, the price of tickets, and my reluctance to return to the city that was my home for the first 39 years of my life. After the events of the last few years, Springsteen was once again a source of stability and comfort for me. The podcasts he did with President Obama were great to listen to, as were his shows on Sirius/XM where he expressed what a lot of us were feeling during Trump’s presidency. I felt that I needed to see him this time. I also know he’s not getting any younger.
The show was about 2 1/2 hours long. He talks a lot in these intimate shows. He began with growing up in New Jersey and talked about his youth. I could relate a lot to what he talked about. There was a tree in front of his house – a copper beech tree that he used to climb in and thought of as “his tree.” At one point when he went back to the home, the tree was gone. He felt such loss when he saw that, but he still felt the spirit of the tree there and all of the ghosts of the past.
This is a picture of the home I grew up in. I lived in it for the first 24 years of my life (save two short periods when I tried living on my own-New York is expensive). The window at the top peak where the air conditioner is was my bedroom from when I was about 11 on. There used to be two large oak trees in front of the home, between the sidewalk and the street. The first time I pulled the house up on Google street view, I was so sad to see them gone. I’d hang out my window at night and look through them at the sky. I started smoking when I was 14. It wasn’t as big of a deal to smoke when you were a teen back then, although I still didn’t want my parents to find out. I’d sit nearly outside the window with a cigarette and look through the trees at the sky, or watch the leaves flutter. My parents, knew, though. I wasn’t exactly covert by throwing my butts into the gutter at the edge of the roof. My Dad just picked them up where they came down the downspout and didn’t say anything.
It was my own spot similar to the lyrics from Tom Petty:
Well, it was nearly summer we sat on your roof
Yeah, we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon
And I’d show you stars you never could see
Yeah, I know, Petty, not Springsteen, but they were somewhat intertwined in my teen years when I felt isolated and a bit of a misfit. I’d been bullied in high school, and even though I had my own close cadre of friends, I never felt like I belonged. My solace was music, and Springsteen was a huge part of that.
So when he talked about the tree in front of his house and how it felt to see it gone, I could relate. My parents bought that house in 1954 and lived there for 40 years. It’s been 27 years now since they sold it. I wonder how much of their spirit – or the spirit of me in my youth – is still in that house. I know there was a ghost when I lived there for a while. I wonder now if there are others.
Springsteen also talked a lot about his Mom. She’s 10 years into Alzheimer’s disease. Talking about what that’s been like got Springsteen emotional. It got me emotional too, thinking about my parents being gone. With losing my daughter just a few months after losing my Mother, I never really processed a lot of the emotion around losing my parents (my father died two years later).
He didn’t go much into politics. He talked about what he did during the pandemic, including the podcast with President Obama, but didn’t dwell on it. He made jokes of his arrest and going to “Zoom court.” The song 41 Shots was included in his selection for the evening.
His wife, Patti Scialfa, joined him for two songs. Her voice compliments his quite well. Despite rumors surrounding him, they seem to have a good, relatively happy marriage, so I discount a lot of the rumors.
I’m very glad I spent the money to see him. It was worth every cent. His songs have been the soundtrack of my life. I’m so glad to have been on this planet the same time as him.