Today is Bruce's 73rd birthday. All week I've been posting Bruce videos on Facebook ... here they are, all in one place:
Quite an important night for Springsteen -- when's the last time he really had to prove himself to an audience? Closing out the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, following Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, it was to a decidedly non-partisan crowd; Bruce wasn't preaching to the choir for the first time in a long time, he had a brand new band to boot, and this their first non-rehearsal show.
The Ghost of Tom Joad was a mostly-acoustic album Bruce released in 1995. Rage Against the Machine released a hard rap/rock version. In 2008, Rage guitarist Tom Morello joined Bruce and the E Street Band for an electric version. As Morello tells it, during the rehearsal, he played a very straightforward guitar solo, so none of the band was prepared for what he unleashed in front of an audience. Morello later joined the band as a temporary replacement for Steven Van Zandt on tours in 2013-4, and an electric version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" featuring Morello's guitar finally appeared on the 2014 studio album High Hopes.
In 2012, Bruce played at the legendary Apollo Theater. It was the first full E Street Band show without Clarence Clemons, who had died less than a year before. (In what now feels inevitable, filling those Big Man shoes was Clarence's nephew, Jake Clemons, who has been with the band ever since.) Celebrity watchers can look for Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Elvis Costello in the audience. Trivia note: Bruce was 62 years old when this concert occurred.
Australia, 2017. Bruce sees a fan in the audience with a sign that reads "Missed school, in the shit now. Can I play Growin Up with you".
Still my favorite Bruce song. He's coming to liberate us, confiscate us: