So, what’s the first word that comes to your mind if I say Bruce?
My wife thinks I’m crazy, and I understand that. But she gets why I’m crazy for Bruce.
There have been periods, especially in the first years we met, in which I only listened to Bruce, for whole days. And if there was an article or a program on radio or Tv in which they talked about him, I was like almost in trance. After a while she began to appreciate some of his music, she also bought a cd, 18 tracks, I was so sure she was making a gift to me, yet she bought it to keep it for her. When he was touring for Tom Joad there was a TV show on him, me and her we did not live together, we did not even live in the same town, and we both saw the show. Then at the end she sent me a message, which said “But he’s just like you, when you play” that was not meant to say I looked like Bruce physically, not even in the look, she just meant he was my landmark in music, him and all the music he brought with him, all the roots I desperately tried to make mine while listening to his and his fathers’ songs.
Anyway even understanding that she remained in the resolute believing that my obsession for the Man was bordering on crazyness (hey, I never denied that).
She had a turn on her point of view during a show (I know, it’s always like this). It was a date on the Devils and Dust tour: she remained astounded for days, after the show. That voice, that presence on stage, a whole arena silent in participation… I remember during Long Time Coming, at the second or third verse Bruce stopped, took a step back getting away from the mic, looked at the people, barely a touch for the note on the acoustic guitar, and kept singing almost without accompaniment. The whole place was silent, and he was there just barely singing, talking to us, just his presence kept us together and still. He was talking to each and everyone of us, it was irreal and tremendously powerful.
At the end of the show she did not say much, but I knew she had understood. On the way home she juts said Now I get it, why you love him so much.
And during the years, well, she never reached my crazyness, and that’s ok, more than ok for me, but when the dates of the tour come out she is always Ok, we gotta prepare. What are you waiting for? What about the tickets?
She gets it, now.
We all know the story of Bruce’s eureka moment seeing Elvis at The Ed Sullivan’s show, and I think we all had this electrocution revelation in our lives: someone had it bad, others had it soft, someone had it with Bruce, some with other rock bands or singers. But we all had it.
I had mine in 2012, when due to an elaborate sequence of serendipity and Cabala theosophy I found myself possessor of a Bruce Springsteen ticket, upper level of a stadium. But I was alone. Oh my God, alone? in a stadium? No way, I’m staying home. I’ll put on a cd and listen to his music this way, it’s more or less the same. I was really making a number of convincing myself, I really wasn’t a “concert girl” type. I just had seen some Music Festivals, some Town Festivals, and anyway in a company with a number of people equal and/or superior to a football team. So no way I’m goin’alone. Except it is Bruce Springsteen. Live. So I have a Springsteen ticket for one of his shows and I’m brushing him off like this? Ok, ok, I’m going. Alone.
On the ticket it said: Doors open at 2 pm, so I’m all “At 2 pm I HAVE to be there, or I can lose my place”. I stored my backpack with sandwiches, chocolate, water, energy boosters (potential heatstroke risk), an umbrella (potential rain risk), some fusees (just in case), and off on my way to the stadium. The Security let me enter with a smile, probably thinking of me as a silly girl, it’s 2 pm, I have a numbered seat in the stadium, the show will begin at 8 pm… But I don’t mind, and I smile back at them. On my section there was just me and a lady on the far corner, who was prepared for the afternoon wait with two books. I had in the backpack everything for a stranded stay on a deserted island, but I hadn’t thought of books, or magazines, or even an Ikea catalogue. Nothing. So I spent the remaining SIX hours on the phone, calling people I haven’t spoken to in ages: Oh you get married? You have children? you are divorced??? way to go!!!
I called relatives and old friends and classmates, just like when you are moving in another Country, or leaving for a long journey around the world, and you don’t know when, or even if you’ll be coming back. And if you’ll ever come back, it’s positive that you’ll never be the same.
And, well, in a way that was what happened to me.
The show starts and ends, but that unique post concert feeling just doesn’t fade. We all have been there.
And in the days, and weeks after the concert, inexplicable things begin to occur. Full immersion (bordering on obsessive-compulsive behaviour) on the show bootleg; neurotic locating of other bootlegs, dvds, documentaries, books, and tickets. I need to have other tickets, I really really NEED to see other shows. And if he isn’t touring, or waaay to far for you to be there, you discover that it’s not just Bruce: he is your choice of dope, but anyway the rock’n’roll has hooked you. You want to see other artists, buy other music, live that rock’n’roll feeling till the end. You don’t know exactly how, but you need that music, and you are now a live concert animal. All your income is spent in that drug, if you can’t afford the overnight stay you’ll sleep in a tent, or at the bus station, but you’ll go to that show, one way or another.
In your personal Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the word Concert has replaced Livelihood, a term that has been unarguably at the very base of it for all your 24 years of existence.
And one day you understand it’s not just rock’n’roll. It’s a philosophy, and you don’t choose to embrace it: that flame makes you a prisoner, and it’s a life imprisonment.
So, back to that analogy I made at the beginning, speaking of Bruce when he saw Elvis at The Ed Sullivan’s Show, it’s just to explain that moment in your life when you have the consciousness raising, and for me that moment was Bruce’s show in 2012.
It was like getting ready in your room, one final check in the mirror, then shutting the door and walking out in the sun.