Bruce Springsteen is in the news today for saying “Hello Ohio!” in…Michigan on Friday, but geez people, how many of us are way under 60 and way less talented, energetic, or able to memorize 27 songs a night, let alone write or perform them?
I was lucky enough to see Bruce’s last concert ever at Giants Stadium last month, and for a mostly-life-long Jersey Girl, it was a giant treat, one of those serendipitous gifts from above that make me pinch myself.
Sure, I had told my neighbors, I’ll take care of your three cats for two weeks. That’s what pet-loving neighbors do for each other in
Is the Boss a hottie?
I grew up on Bruce. He sang the anthems that described my teens and twenties, the pride we took in finding beauty and meaning where
everyone else saw overcrowding and pollution.
I discovered him in high school, when I was just starting
to understand that cool music was out there, when I heard a guy a year older
talking about Clarence Clemons.
This was the music that captured the 80s for me, but also
whatever this decade is called. Only Bruce has the power to make me feel what
borders on nostalgia for those strange, mournful, and oddly-sunny days right
after September 11.
Only Bruce could have written the two songs--“Born to Run”
Around me in Giants Stadium were a ton of 40- and
50-year-olds, “my people,” the girls who taught us to smoke, the people
who blanket the sands of Point Pleasant, the guys our marching band played for. This is where we go when the weather turns, all 65,000 of us.
We bring praise for Bruce, for his productivity, for the way
he describes our lives. We admire the way he lauds the common man, the way he’s
probably a nice guy (and we can’t believe any allegations
to the contrary). One of us even carries a sign that says “Bruce is My
Then it hits me, when the Jumbotron displays a close-up
of all the hands raised in praise.
Truly, the only black guy I can see
is The Big Man
himself, playing the sax. All those arms
were white, a a sea of Crayola “flesh” color, or at least that’s what it was
called when I was a kid, before we started to know the error of that name, the
implication that other colors didn’t count.
Am I that white that my all-time favorite rock star has
no appeal for black Jerseyans? Is this music, which embodies both my youth and my
recent years, somehow excluding or repelling people of color? What’s wrong with
me for loving something that doesn’t seem to be loved universally?
I asked a friend of mine who is black, apologizing first for asking someone “what black people think.” (“Ask them yourself,” my college roommate rightly told me once.) My friend said she noticed the same thing at Bono and U2 concerts, maybe concerts are too expensive, who knows? Maybe concerts by black artists have audiences that are less melanin-deprived.
Anyone have any ideas? And, in the meantime, speaking of
poetry, can anyone think of a better motto for this particular recession than “No retreat,
baby, no surrender”?