As previously discussed in this space, I partook in the customary ritualistic gathering of my peoples this past weekend and attended (for the twelfth time) a stadium performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. This marked my third such concert for 2012 on the band’s tour in support of their newest studio-recorded offering. Since the release of Wrecking Ball in March, Bruce seems to have whole-heartedly embraced the theme of ghosts – not scary specters, but simply the spirits of those gone before us; in his own words, “sweet souls departed.” For evidence, take a listen to “We Are Alive,” maybe my favorite track on the album.
For this first time ever, E Street had to step out on the road without Clarence Clemons this year, and in March, I took in my first Boss show since the month before my father died. Why does this matter? More than anyone else in my life, my dad imbued me with (in my humble opinion) an impeccable taste in music. And, more than anyone else, Bruce Springsteen has singularly provided my life with a rich, beautiful soundtrack. If you can imagine what might happen when I have a few too many beers and get a little sad…well, I kind of made a fool of myself. The Boston show was so early in the tour that no one really knew how Bruce would handle Clarence’s absence, other than hiring a horns section anchored by the Big Man’s nephew.
About three songs (and many more beers) into the night, Bruce asked the crowd “Is anybody missing?” and he obviously meant Clarence and I promptly devolved into loud sobs. It felt a little harsh to be so upfront with it, but the more I thought about both our scenarios, I realized the Boss and I had something in common beyond a shared home state. He had been dealing with Clarence’s death for a year. For him, it was horrible, but it was old news; he felt OK discussing the obvious. My family has mourned our loss going on three years now and I’ve reached a place in my grief where I feel comfortable talking about it. What’s really happened, though, is that I’ve gotten really good at making people who don’t know me well feel awkward. Same kind of thing. Anyway, Bruce then led the band into “My City of Ruins” from The Rising, which became a post 9/11 rallying ballad. Bruce himself has said he originally wrote the song with Asbury Park in mind. Clearly it’s taken on a new meaning for him. Continue reading