bruce springsteen #37

It had been so long since we'd seen Bruce that he was only 66 years old at the time. We didn't miss any tours ... this was his first tour since we saw him in '16. But there was COVID, and then he did his Broadway show, which played off an on between 2017 and 2021. He stayed busy. There were three studio albums, one of which, Western Stars, later was released in theaters as a full performance of the album. He released an album of soul covers. The Broadway shows were released as an album, as were his performances at the No Nukes concerts in 1979. He also continued his release of live concerts from the archives, almost 100 of them since that last show we saw in 2016. These are properly mastered, and basically replace all those decades where we collected bootlegs. Four of those were of shows we attended. So yeah, the old geezer kept busy.

It's impossible to attend a Bruce Springsteen show in 2024 without bringing your past along. I couldn't help but compare what I was seeing to what I had seen in the past. Sure, nothing is likely to match the shows from 1978, but he's put on so many great shows since ... the 1999 E Street Reunion return was tremendous, and I was especially taken by a couple of 2008 shows from the Magic Tour. But now it's 2024 ... the E Streeters who have died were replaced more than a decade ago, what you see now is what you get. The musicianship remains top notch, and Bruce's voice is still powerful. If you'd never seen him before, you might not have noticed how little he moved around, but really, he didn't look all that different from other acts, it's just that when we were all young, Bruce would run around and climb on stuff and go into the crowd, and that's in the past. The band had fun with it ... during "Rosalita", always one of the most physically active songs in the show, Bruce and buddies danced in little circles. It was charming.

In the old days, it was always fun to see what new songs Bruce would perform, and that's not as true now, but then, he's got 50+ years of tunes to get through. He played a song each from the two albums he released in 1973, he played four songs from 2020's Letter to You, he played a song from the 2022 album of soul covers. With someone whose back catalog is so huge, there are always going to be songs people in the audience missed (I'm still waiting to hear "Back in Your Arms" for the first time). But, as I said at one point to my wife, he has a lot of songs, and while his peak was, what 1975-1988?, his output since then has not been insubstantial.

On to the setlist junkie info ... he opened with "Something in the Night" from 1978 ... it was the tour debut for this one. Another tour debut was "Atlantic City", which was inspired by a sign in the crowd. Finally, there was a tour debut for "Land of Hope and Dreams". They played five songs we'd never seen live (because they were recorded after 2016). He played seven songs that he had played at our first show in 1975. "Born to Run" is "our song" (us and every other Bruce fan ... some day girl, I don't know when, we're gonna get to that place where we really want to go and we'll walk in the sun ... has meant something different from when we were 22 to now when we're 70). "Rosalita" has always been my favorite Bruce song, and I'm glad to hear it, but it really was better in the olden days. "Backstreets" probably hits closest to home for me ... I choke up the second the piano starts up.

Here are a few videos, not necessarily the best songs of the night, but the best videos ... a tip of the cap to some of these people who do such a great thing under tough conditions. This is so far the best video I have seen:

And the timeless "Backstreets":

Over the course of 50 years, some songs rise to the top of your personal pantheon, others slip away only to return down the road. But of all the words Bruce Springsteen has written, these resonate the most for me to this day:

Remember all the movies, Terry, we’d go see
Trying to learn how to walk like the heroes we thought we had to be
And after all this time to find we’re just like all the rest
Stranded in the park and forced to confess
To hiding on the backstreets, hiding on the backstreets
We swore forever friends on the backstreets until the end
Hiding on the backstreets, hiding on the backstreets

Here we are at the show:

At bruce 2024

music friday: 1985

I'm typing this on Thursday afternoon, but by the time it posts, I will have seen Bruce Springsteen for the 37th time, and the first time since 2016 (this 8-year break is by far the longest of our life since the first time we saw him in 1975). This is Music Friday 1985, and Bruce didn't release any albums that year ... he was still touring behind the previous year's Born in the USA. We saw him once on that tour ... here is the setlist from that show:

Born In The USA / Badlands / Out In The Street / Johnny 99 / Seeds / Atlantic City / The River / Working On The Highway / Trapped / I'm Going Down / Glory Days / Promised Land / My Hometown / Thunder Road / Cover Me / Dancing In The Dark / Hungry Heart / Cadillac Ranch / Downbound Train / Stolen Car / I'm On Fire / Pink Cadillac / Bobby Jean / This Land Is Your Land / Born To Run / Ramrod / Twist And Shout-Do You Love Me / Stand On It / Travelin' Band

Here is a low-fi video of "Stolen Car" from that show:

Now I'm driving a stolen car on a pitch-black nightAnd I'm doing my best to make it throughWell I'm just sitting down here at the Stanton lightI wanna get caught but I never do

And here is a Creedence song recorded 9 days later, this time with no video but much better sound ... this closed the set for us in Oakland:

music friday: 1980

Pink Floyd, "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)". I have a vague memory of someone back in the day questioning the benefits of a pop song telling kids they didn't need no education.

Barbra Streisand, "Woman in Love". From her 22nd album ... she was prolific.

Lipps Inc., "Funkytown". I guess Lipps Inc. were one-hit wonders. The singer's name is Cynthia Johnson.

What was I doing in 1980? Well, in October, we saw Bruce Springsteen five times in seven nights in two states and three cities.

music friday: bruce springsteen winterland 1978

On this date, 45 years ago, we saw Bruce Springsteen at Winterland. It was the final month for that lovable craphole, and Bruce was one of the artists Bill Graham signed to send it off in style. December 15 was the first of two nights ... we went to both, our 2nd and 3rd time seeing him that year, our 4th and 5th overall. Many of us think of that 1978 tour as Bruce's greatest. Maybe that's nostalgia speaking. Anyway, here is "Prove It All Night" from December 15 ... that show was broadcast live on a local FM station, and so it was easily bootlegged:

If you prefer to have some actual footage and don't care about the anniversary, here is the official release of the same song from one week prior to the above:

music friday: the first bridge school benefit

On this date in 1986, the first Bridge School Benefit Concert was held. Put together by Neil and Pegi Young, the benefits were held annually through 2016. Young got a lot of big names to play at the concert, which was acoustic. (We were there, and also attended one other when Bruce was on the bill.)

Bridge school 1986

Robin Williams was, well, Robin Williams:

Bruce Springsteen brought along Nils Lofgren and Danny Federici:

And Bruce and Nils helped Neil out:

on turning 70

We moved into our current house in 1987. I was 34 years old. There was a huge tree in our front yard. It had been there a long time. A friend who grew up on the block said he and his friends used to play basketball using that tree ... it was never quite clear how this worked.


One morning last week, 7:00 AM, a crew showed up at our house and starting trimming the tree. Except it turned out their mission was not to trim the tree. Their mission was to remove the tree, which was sick. By the end of the day, there was no more tree.

No more tree

In 2003, Joan Didion's husband of almost 40 years died. At the age of 70, she wrote about her reaction to his death in The Year of Magical Thinking. In that book, she wrote:

We are not idealized wild things. We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.

In the last paragraph of On the Road, Jack Kerouac wrote, "Nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old." Kerouac was 47 when he died.

Bruce Springsteen was in his 20s when he wrote "Backstreets":

Remember all the movies, Terry, we'd go seeTrying to learn to walk like the heroes we thought we had to beAnd after all this time, to find we're just like all the restStranded in the park and forced to confessTo hiding on the backstreets

He recorded "I'll See You in My Dreams" when he was 70.

Randy Newman wrote "Old Man" when he was in his 20s.

Won't be no God to comfort you
You taught me not to believe that lie
You don't need anybody
Nobody needs you
Don't cry, old man, don't cry
Everybody dies

Newman is still alive and is 79.

When Luis Buñuel was 70, he made Tristana. This is how I described the plot:

Fernando Rey’s Don Lope lives in a world that is crumbling … he believes in the old codes of honor because they have always benefited people like him, to the point that he thinks the codes are natural. When he takes in Catherine Deneuve’s Tristana, it’s not exactly clear what their familial relationship is, or even if there is one. But when Tristana is orphaned, Don Lope takes her in and treats her as his daughter and his wife simultaneously. In both cases, he attempts to exercise control over Tristana’s life. She escapes and falls for an artist played by Franco Nero … some years later, she returns with a tumor on her leg. Don Lope takes her in once again, the leg is amputated, and they get married in the church, so they are not sinners. But the power relationship has changed … Lope is an old man, Tristana has come into her own (she looks more like Catherine Deneuve as the film progresses).

Cyndi Lauper is the famous person whose birthday is closest to my own. I am two days older than her. She turns 70 on Thursday. Here she is on stage a couple of months ago: