Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Born to entertain

I’m picky about my rock legends.

Having been to scores of concerts, I’ve seen most of the musical greats live on stage, even met one or two. I still listen to all my favorite recordings, singing along and reliving the highlights of my career as an avid listener.

But I rarely go to see these idols live anymore. It often pains me to see how they’ve aged, how some have lost their ability to sing as they used to. Aging is a natural part of life, I know; I just prefer to remember the legends as they were.

Bruce Springsteen still is as he was. Only better.

I’ve told you before that I’ve been to more Springsteen concerts than I can count, the first one 37 years ago. As many Springsteen concerts as I’ve attended, I hadn’t been to one since I was in my 20s. I’m now in my 50s, as were most of the fans filling Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center Sunday night, some of whom have spawned a whole new generation of fans.

If you’re a fan, I don’t need to tell of the magic of Bruce. If you’re not, then you likely already quit reading after the third paragraph.

This isn’t a concert review; rather, just a recap of the impressions occupying my consciousness in the afterglow of the evening.

Bruce Springsteen is a man who . . .

  • At the age of 62, is as fit and energetic as he was at 25–and plays a better guitar than ever.
  • Speaks out boldly for his passions—personal, professional and political.
  • Might not enunciate his lyrics clearly, but has millions of fans sing along verbatim.
  • Still looks on the outside like the rugged bad boy we all fell in love with, but has mellowed into a sensitive and humble man who isn’t afraid to sing about Jesus and end his show with a “God bless.”
  • Has brilliantly mastered the art of musical orchestration and stage production to the extent it seems impossible to top.
  • Deeply misses, nearly to tears, his friend and saxophone player Clarence Clemons.
  • Had the wisdom to bring in Clarence’s nephew, Jake Clemons, to fill the Big Man’s big shoes and throw in four additional horns for good measure.
  • Has proven it’s possible to work successfully, side by side, every day, with one’s spouse.

Bruce gave 20,000 lucky fans three hours of musical muscle for their money. And while he was in town, he saw to it that wounded veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as well as those served by DC Central Kitchen, were included in the magic.

Yes, indeed. The man’s still got it.


For a real review, today’s Washington Post says it more eloquently than I, and had more space to work with: Read David Malitz’ excellent account.

Previous Word Nymph pieces:

The Boss
Big Dream


Filed under Music

Big dream

I read somewhere—I think  it was in a newspaper commentary a year or so ago—that dreams are interesting only to those who have them. For this reason, the commentator argued, we needn’t tell others about our dreams because they’ll only be bored. For the most part, I agree with that.

In the wee hours of this morning, I dreamt I was in a band with Clarence Clemons. This is far-fetched on so many levels, not the least of which pertains to my complete lack of any musical talent. There was an inverted sense of time, because everyone in the band and in the audience knew that Clarence had died, or was about to die–everyone but the Big Man himself. Therefore, he didn’t know why everyone was crying. He just played that saxophone like there was no tomorrow. Which, as we sadly know, there wasn’t.

Even as I type this, I realize how silly my dream was, and even more inane to tell you about it. At the same time, it allowed me to have my own private memorial. As so many fans were, I was profoundly saddened by Clarence’s passing this past Saturday. As I told you in an earlier post, I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for the first time when I was 15 and many, many times after that. Clarence’s wailing sax is a pronounced constant within the sound track to half of my life.

Last night, in the closing minutes of the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams held back tears after having visited the hallowed ground of The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J.  I cried the tears he held back.

Here’s to Clarence, who has left a Big Man’s hole in our world, and to Brian Williams, who told those who didn’t know Clarence about this lovable legend as well and as personally as any newsman has. Brian, I wish you had been on stage with us last night.


Filed under In Memoriam, Music, News

The Boss

Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. 

(Belmar, actually, but I wanted to open with the name of the album.)

It’s been many years since I’ve been to this stretch of the Jersey Shore.  Some good friends were kind enough to invite us to join them for the holiday weekend.  We are thrilled to see them and to be back “down the shore,” in that order.

This is hallowed ground for fans of Bruce Springsteen.  And I am definitely one.

In the summer of 1975, having never heard of him, I saw Springsteen perform at a concert hall in Norfolk, Va., and my life was forever changed.  The Born to Run album had just come out and, to a girl of fifteen, Bruce’s energy and stage presence were electrifying.  Once I knew what he was actually singing, I was inspired. 

It can be hard to understand Bruce when he sings but, within no time after the concert, I had the album and was reading and memorizing the lyrics.  That, boys and girls, was back when an album cover was large enough to print all the lyrics in readable type.

At fifteen, I was already disillusioned with the sappy pop music of Top 40 radio.  The Captain and Tennille just didn’t capture the pain and angst that kids my age were feeling.

But Bruce?  No candy coating there, his songs were real.  They were life in the streets and broken hearts and hard knocks.  They ripped your heart out and offered hope at the same time.

I’ve always considered Bruce Springsteen a modern poet.  On this occasion of my visit here, I’d like to share some of my favorite of his lyrics.

From the song, “For You”

We were both hitchhikers but you had your ear tuned to the roar
of some metal-tempered engine on an alien, distant shore

From “Growin’ Up”

I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fallout zone and came out with my soul untouched

From “Thunder Road” 

There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street, your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn, you hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they’re gone, on the wind, so Mary climb in
It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to win

From “Jungleland”

In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage
Inside the backstreet girls are dancing to the records that the DJ plays
Lonely-hearted lovers struggle in dark corners desperate as the night moves on
Just one look and a whisper, and they’re gone. 

I’m going to sign off now.  I have a lump in my throat.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Music, Travel