Last week, I wrote that I was "going to turn Music Friday into a random look at concerts I've attended over the years." The choices aren't really random this week ... Bruce Springsteen has a new album out, so I'll showcase Bruce and three acts I saw with him.
One thing the pandemic does is prevent us from going to concerts. I've seen Bruce 36 times, and more than most musicians, his music benefits from the live setting, such that I've never been able to really judge one of his new albums until I've heard it live. And that's not going to be happening for a while. So any response I have to Letter to You is partial. For now, I'll repeat what I said on Facebook ... the sound is interesting in its retrograde feel ... it always sounds like old-school Bruce, but it never sounds like the same old school ... one song sounds like it came from Working on a Dream, another from The River, another from some random Tracks era. Based on sound alone, it's obvious why some people are so taken with it. (And I'll add, where's Soozie?)
Bruce famously drops in on the shows of others. We got to experience that once, in 1981, when Bruce turned up at a small club for five songs with Gary U.S. Bonds when Bonds was touring behind his Bruce-enabled comeback album, Dedication.
1978 was the greatest year of my musical life, when we saw Bruce three times during his legendary 1978 tour. He would close with this Gary U.S. Bonds number ... we saw him sing it on five different occasions:
While Bruce has appeared with other performers as part of benefit shows, we only saw one person open for him at a regular Bruce concert: John Wesley Harding. It was the first time in 20 years that anyone had opened for Bruce. Harding has written four novels under his real name, Wesley Stace.
We saw Bruce on his 39th birthday as part of an Amnesty International show. Joan Baez was one of the many artists who appeared, and she sang him "Happy Birthday". She was in the crowd in 2006 when we saw him with the Seeger Sessions Band ... she came onstage to help sing "Pay Me My Money Down". Here is Baez with Mercedes Sosa in 1988:
Finally, here is the Seeger Sessions Band with "Pay Me My Money Down":