I went to my first Bruce’s show with my father, who at that time worked driving around as a boiler maintenance man. I did not know the song Factory yet, and my father did not work in a factory anymore. Still, I knew he raised from bed early in the morning, way before me, and that he came back in the evening when I was already showered at the end of my school day and the table was already set.
Later on in my life, during one of those nights out we used to have together sometimes, he would have asked me How are you? and how’s grandma? Are you studying? girlfriend, is she still that girl you used to date? and then You are not that young anymore, you have to get your head together, understand?
And then he would have asked me about music, “Did you see some good show? But, you know… was it good like the Springsteen’s one we saw together? remember? Jesus, that was amazing, the best”.
Some other years passed by, and I’m watching Springsteen and I, the part where the English guy after years of night shifts and hard work was able to afford a “Springsteen vacation” in New York for the Madison Square Garden shows in 2000. And while he speaks there’s Factory as a soundtrack, and he begins to tell how he won the lottery with the Men in black who gave him a front row ticket, and meanwhile those words are flowing, through the mansions of fear, through the mansions of pain, I see my daddy walking through them factory gates in the rain; factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life. It’s the working, the working, just the working life.
And here you have Bruce talking about his old man, and my old man, and he doesn’t even know me, but he gets it. The struggles, and the respect, and what their life had been, this morning drive to the factory, every morning, for another gloomy day, trying not to bring home to your kids your rage, your angst. He understands what was that kept our fathers going through all the painful days and nights of hard work in the factory, what kept that English man goin’ on, what will keep me going on, eventually. We’re just all trying to find our way through it, already knowing that some of us will not come to a successful end. But you still do, because that’s what’s life is all about.
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.
So there’s this pleasant game in which you choose 3 words to describe what Bruce means to you, and well, you have a whole bunch of Love-Faith-Happiness or Family-Life-Hope selection, and it’s all very good, and true. Then you remember Bruce at the Madison Square Garden, Reunion Tour, hand in hand with all the E Street, singing Blood Brothers and trying hard not to cry, and well… I fucking dare you to explain in 3 words what Springsteen means to you, in that moment.