That first time you are among other Bruce fans, and you feel home.

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In 1995 Bruce announced the Solo Acoustic Tour, that would have arrived in Europe in spring 1996. That was pre-internet era, and pre-cell phones too: we did not know in advance the dates of the shows or the locations, let alone the day of the ticket sales. You just have to ask directly the shops (or you could phone them, but the clerks had this peculiar trait to never answer the phone, a tradition that they still maintain in this new era), and so from February to March every other day I showed up after work into the three main record shops of my town, and asked if they had some news on Bruce’s shows. He was playing in theatres, you know: theatres with a maximum capacity of two or three thousand people, I knew it would be almost impossible to catch a ticket.

One of the first days in March one of the clerks, we had come to recognize each other during my daily visits at his boot, greeted me with a big thump up, saying Hey girl you’ve made it! we have the official dates of the tour, and we’ll sell the tickets tomorrow! He said they’ll have about 80 tickets, no more, 2 tickets limit for each customer. Considering that everybody would have bought two ticket, I just had to stay in the first 40 people, and I would have had my ticket. It seemed just too easy to be true.

There were 4 or 5 other fans there, they were already preparing the queue to wait till the next day, so I hanged with them till the evening, then went home to prepare a backpack to sleep that night outside in the street (in March, don’t forget). At midnight there were about 10 people outside, so it really was manageable, we took long turns to go home for a few hours each. The next morning the crowd had raised in number, there were about 100 people out there, the clerks opened the shop, and said that they had bad news, the management had decided to postpone the ticket sale for two other days. It was Wednesday, and they would have to sell on Friday.

So I was there, already queueing from 20 hours, and I had to decide if Bruce was worth continuing for other 48 hours or so. What do you think?

I got that friggin ticket, three days and three nights in the street. Maybe some other day I’ll tell the whole story of those cursed hours on the pavement of a city, in March.

But I want to tell this: all my other friends told me I was crazy, and I had to made up some lies for my parents, because they just would not have understood. I did not have many Bruce buds, at the time, I just knew two other people who liked him, we discussed his records and stuff, we even attended the 92/93 tour together, but they were not really hardcore, they loved him like they loved Dylan or the Stones, and in fact they were not queueing there with me because it was “too much”. My collegues at work thought me strange, his music was already my life but I had nobody to connect with in that sense.

And you all know, I presume, Bruce’s story who for the first time in his life felt his image in the mirror tolerable only when he saw himself embracing his guitar.

Well, that moment, for me, was there among other fans, real fans like me: it was intolerably cold and hard and trying to stay there for three days and three nights. But it was the first time in my life I felt home, among other fans who got me, really got me and my passion for Bruce.

 

 

Somewhere, across the border

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In 1996 I was having a hard time in my life, a deep, depressing personal crisis. I felt lost, troubled, and very lonely. There was nothing in my life that could take me out of the void my life had become, a void that was both inside and around me. I was surrounded by people, faces, words; but I had absolutely no connection with them. I did not even cry, for it would have required energy, and anyway it would have been useless.

I had a ticket for a Tom Joad’s concert, and I decided to go. I entered that theatre and listened to Bruce talking to me for two hours. The show was magnificent, but I had that lump in my throat that was not leaving. Even there, my depression was overshadowing everything, and also that was terrible to me, because if not even Bruce was able to rise me from my state, I feared nothing really could. And I didn’t want that.

At the end of the show he began Across the border. I wasn’t expecting that. It’s such a sweet song, both in lyrics and melody, and suddenly I felt myself dissolve in tears, and every cold black hole in me beginning to warm. I began to cry, because those words, those WHAT ARE WE WITHOUT HOPE IN OUR HEARTS were fundamental to me in that moment. I know that the poor emigrant most likely will not find a real Promised Land at the end of his journey: but that’s not the point. He has faith he will do it, and that’s what matters. I went out serene for the first time in months, no fears, no black holes, the pain stilled. I was not healed, but I knew I would have done it, I had hope, and that’s the most important grace in life: to have a light in the darkness of your desperation.

I’ll always remember that moment, one of the most moving in my life, bound to an absolute beautiful song.