Back to the future

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If it would ever become possible for me to buy a Delorean and Dr Emmett Brown’s tuning kit, I know exactly were I would land. Actually, it would be a hard competition between two moments: Passaic Capitol Theatre 21st September 1978, and Winterland Show in San Francisco, 15th December 1978. And if fate would be cruel enough not to let me live the entire show, I’d choose the end of the first set, when the Professor’s piano begins a solo round, and then Bruce enters to sing

I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396 Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor

She’s waiting tonight down in the parking lot Outside the Seven-Eleven store

And they proceed together, just the two of them, until Bruce stops telling how Sonny and him had rebuilt the Chevy, to spend the summer traveling the Jersey shore with no ties and reservations, just racing, and starts with the harmonica.

Here enters the Mighty Max, oddly quite tame, and little by little the music increases, the volume and the rythm grow up, untile the manifesto declaration

Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece Some guys come home from work and wash up And go racin’ in the street

The music turns off, and Bruce gets back to the storytelling with just Roy keeping track: how he won a race, and with the race the heart of the girl too, and how their story changed. But he doesn’t give up, he tries a last race:

For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels

Rumbling through this promised land

Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea,

And wash these sins off our hands

The song doesn’t have a finale, just two red tail lamps disappearing in the summer night, an harmonica piercing sound, the E Street slowly regains possession of the stage with one of the most moving closures of all rock’n’roll history. Danny pounds on the organ accordion, the bass pumps, Roy embroids the piano notes, even the Big Man has a say with a little castanets blow.

The music slows, the escape is maybe at an end… but not, this is not how it must be done.

Roy keeps on playing, a slightly different solo, and Bruce starts telling of a bike ride he took with Stevie, traveling the desert towards Reno. And in the desert he saw this big Geronimo portrait sign, and the sign had some written words below, and those words were:

This is a land of peace, love, justice and no mercy

And on the road sign was written Thunder Road.

Because, you know, how in the world can you start speaking of Bruce Springsteen’s songs and not mention Thunder road?

Tonight we got style

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Last night I was surfing YouTube videos and ran into two songs that played together are really outstanding in my personal preference scale. Meeting across the river running into Jungleland, Madison Square Garden, June 2000. It was a pre-digital video recording, a pre-digital era. Still, fantastic audio, and images that anyway managed to express the beauty and warmth of the songs.

You know, maybe it’s just the memory. Maybe it’s just because a week after that video I would have landed in America for my first, incredible time in New York City, to be at the MSG myself. Even now after all these years, I can clearly remember all the arena shouting together DOWN IN JUN…GLE…LAND at the first refrain. There in that moment I understood how some songs really belong to their hometown, where they were born. And Clarence’s saxophone solo right there to bring everyone and everything away. Danny on the organ accordion, the E Street still complete. THE band.

June 2000, college graduation still fresh in my hands, life opened in front of me with an infinite series of possibilities, old roads to leave, new roads to travel. Pre-digital era, and maybe yes, it’s just the memory.

But I think that thanks to Eddie with his need for a ride and to the Rat gunned down by his own dreams, some bands will always explode into rock’n’roll.

 

 

Heart and soul

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I don’t want to talk about what Springsteen’s music represents for me or about how it has changed my life. I don’t want to talk about the number of concerts I’ve been to or the number of nights spent waiting for the tickets to go on sale. I won’t tell you about my favourite song, nor about the one which I would love to hear live. I won’t even tell you how many times it has rained on me and I certainly won’t tell you about the number of flights I’ve taken, bad sandwiches I’ve eaten and t-shirts I’ve bought; about the amount of money I’ve invested in this crazy passion of mine. Why?

Because I found this photo I’d forgotten about in an old folder. And despite how faded and out of focus it is I still think that this picture portrays everything that Springsteen represents for me. Excitement. Passion. Friendship. The sax that poured notes in the background that night gave us hope and left us with a lasting impression that we will never forget. There’s me, my wife and our friends, crazily happy to be there together in that embrace.

I don’t really like the word brotherhood, but looking at this photo it is exactly this word that comes to mind.

I remember the next day sitting on the plane home listening to that life-affirming song again with my wife. It’s all about driving through the night.

We looked at the bored faces of all the other passengers roaming through their lives and we suddenly had once more tears in our eyes. That thrill, that excitement, that emotion had still not left us after 24 hours. And thinking back to that day, to that unforgettable night in that amazing arena and trying to describe it, I still have goosebumps.