Last Wednesday night, I rushed home from work, walked the dog, made dinner for my daughter, threw a load of laundry in the wash….and then caught a train to Newark, New Jersey, to find my younger self at a Bruce Springsteen concert. We did not get home until 1:00 a.m., and my ears were still ringing all the next day…but it was so worth it!!
We (my husband Scott and me) were punctual – the tickets said the concert would begin at 7:30, and so there we were, plenty of time to spare, at 7:00. But we’d forgotten that Springsteen concerts never begin on time, the last time either of us had seen him perform was in 1978 – too long ago to remember details like that! So, we found something to drink, sat back and people watched…
We saw people our age with teenagers and young adults in tow – some sporting Springsteen t-shirts, some in mom-jeans and bandanas, everyone smiling and in good cheer. There were quite a few excited looking little kids – 8 or 9 years old, wide-eyed and happy to be brought along to this concert by parents who looked equally wide-eyed and pleased. It was very much, on some level, a family affair. “Will I hear ‘Born To Run” Dad?”… “You betcha!”
Once the stadium had filled up and was raucous enough, Springsteen appeared, and exploded into motion. That man did not pause to take a break for three hours – amazing! Everyone was on their feet, singing, waving arms in the air, moving to the rhythm of his folky rock and roll. Springsteen has taken on the mantle of Pete Seeger – many of his new songs are anthems about solidarity in the face of our economic troubles. I loved watching his face as he sang – he believes in his music and the power of his poetry. There were crowd pleasing moments – Bruce dancing with his mom, Bruce diving into the crowd and surfing all the way back to the stage. But the highlight of the evening was when Springsteen fished out a placard someone had been raising all evening long and sang for the just-passed-away Levon Helm:
The crowd, every one of us, were with him:
There was a father and son duo in front of us, Daniel (that’s what his baseball jersey said: Daniel, #22) looked to be about 10 and he had been singing and dancing along with his dad all night long, put his skinny arm around his dad’s waist and sang, too. He knew every word to “The Weight” – not just the chorus. Every once in a while he’d glance up at his Dad, and they’d sing to each other. Father and son, loving the music, loving the moment, loving the idea of being able to enjoy this experience together. It was beautiful.
And here, because it is also an absolutely beautiful moment to remember, is Levon and The Band singing the unforgettable “I Shall Be Released.”