Sunday, September 9, 2012

the boss

Laurie Metcalf in the Steppenwolf's Balm in Gilead
Photo from
I've never been a Bruce Springstein fan. The only album that I know well of his is Born to Run. A long time ago when I was very young, a friend had an extra ticket to a play. The play was Balm in Gilead at the Steppenwolf Theater. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and I had no idea the magnitude of what I was seeing, but saw it I did. I was mesmerized by the hugeness of it, and Bruce gave it a sound as a few of songs were played loudly throughout it. I will never forget that night. I'm not sure what the play was about any longer ... but the impression it made on me was huge. It took my heart from my chest, blew it up, wrung it out, and put it back in with sloppy stitches. I immediately bought Born to Run, and lived in the moment for many more. After the play was over, my friend, probably the only really cool person that I knew in high school, and I sat on the steps of the theater in a rain storm trying to figure out what the play was about, how we fit into it, and how we were going to get to the train station that would tuck us back into a world that wasn't anything like the one we had just experienced.

Bruce in Chicago
Photo from
So Bruce ... three hours, half in the rain. I expected ... having read so much about the time that Bruce is on stage, and how the people love him that I would be struck ... not by the lightening that threatened the ball park, but by the energy of the band. But it wasn't there. Now you may argue that not being a fan may have something to do with that, but I was totally ready for the experience of  Bruce. And I love huge! I can jump into the stream and fight along with everyone else upstream. I had high hopes ... the dude in front of me, mouthing every word and wildly pumping his fist, made me think ... yeah, this is going to be good. But the energy wasn't there last night.

Now let me say this ... Bruce is hot. Man, he is good looking! And he has an energy that makes me believe that he's got ... it. From the seats across the field, I could see his constant smile. He, no doubt it, loves to perform. But he never let it take him over. The delivery was very corporate. Songs came flying one after another ... very little transition. Just last note of one song, boom, 1-2-3 and the next began. Without pause, he kept everyone running, running, running. We didn't have a chance to catch our breathe. No pause for reflection. And if the music in and of itself was more driving that might have worked, but the 1-2-3 went into another ... not driving song. Bruce doesn't really rock. OOOHHHH, I know that will not be a popular statement, and I'm not sure that is how best to say it, but that's what it was.

When the rain took over, and everyone tried to run for cover, I had to admit to my friends that the Boss ... just didn't do it for me. I kept thinking of all of the U2 concerts that I've been to over the years ... when you're in that, you know it! You are picked up and carried away in walls of sound and a sense that our spirits were all connected and spilling out of the stadium to permeate the surrounding area with hope. I've taken a few naysayers to one of their concerts and they've all left feeling ... buoyant. I know that is a ... strong endorsement, but if you give yourself to Bono, he will lift you higher. He will push up to 'kiss the sky.'

Another of my favorite bands is Wilco. One of their songs talks to the point that when life gets you down, turn to your band because it will love you ... 'Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you baby ...' And when we go to a concert, I believe in some small way, we are looking for a little love. I didn't feel loved by Bruce ... he loves what he does, but it didn't move to blanket me with any of it. Bummer.

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