I’ve been a Bruce Springsteen fan for the last 40-odd years, like everyone else. But I never saw him live, not once. The ticket situation always seemed so damn competitive and pricey. I forget how many months ago a Los Angeles attorney friend paid God knows how many hundreds of dollars to catch his one-man Broadway show; even if I could have afforded that I wouldn’t have felt very good about it. There are limits to the value of watching someone perform.
But last night I watched the Springsteen on Broadway show on Netflix, and it got me. But good. I was seriously impressed by the depth of the writing and the caressing emotions I felt as this 69 year-old guy recalled his New Jersey-based life — the childhood, the conflicts, the rock ‘n’ roll salvation. It was like being with a good friend or something, and listening to him unload.
I’m not a passionate “New Jersey guy” the way Springsteen is, but it felt to me like great heart-touching poetry. For the first time in my life I felt myself melting as I listened to this and that song. The New Jersey I knew as a kid and a teenager was horrific in some ways — I was actually delighted to move to Connecticut, once I got to know it — but for some reason I was feeling the old pangs anyway. That’s Bruce for you — his stuff reaches out and takes hold.
It’s a journey, this show…a ride and a walk into the past, and a sad, shared appreciation of a whole lot of things about American life, about the after-taste of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s and how much of the home-grown fibre has been tainted or swallowed by corporatism or narcotized by opioids over the last 35 or 40 years.
I somehow didn’t realize that Bruce’s between-song patter would be so skillfully written and performed just so. It’s his story and his heart and everything he’s seen and been through, but he’s sharing it as a “performance.” He’s acting but at the same just being.
I don’t know at what precise point the show began to get to me, but I it might have been during his low-key delivery of “My Hometown.” Also “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”, “The Rising,” “Dancing in the Dark”…hell, all of it.
The show runs 153 minutes — it feels like 70 or 80.