After six decades and 46 years between his first concert and his most recent show, my husband Smitty says he has officially retired from Bruce Springsteen concerts. Last night’s show in Austin was amazing, despite the fact that our insultingly expensive tickets were seats in the second highest row, so he says he’s going out satisfied and that it’s been a good run. Personally, I think he’s sounding a bit Tom Bradyish, but a good run it’s been indeed.
Why The Boss? It’s hard to put into words but I’ll do my best here.
For Smitty, it all started 46 years ago when he saw Bruce for the first time at Buffalo’s Kleinhan’s Music Hall in 1977. During last week’s Dallas show we attended on February 2, he reminded our daughter and me of it being the exact date of his first show. This, from the guy who runs to HEB to get roses and a card the morning of our anniversary, but I digress. Since that first show, he was sold and has seen him 40+ times. Multiple cities. Multiple tours. If he hasn’t seen it. It’s been by choice.
For me it came a little later in life. I remember first hearing about Bruce when my high school friend’s older sister had “The River” and I loved “Hungry Heart.” At the time I also loved Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp, Boston, and a host of other ‘70s singers and Bruce was just another artist I liked. It wasn’t until many years later and marrying Smitty that my eyes were opened to the beauty of Bruce.
A couple of fun facts:
Smitty proposed by asking me to put on his Walkman headphones and cued up Bruce’s “I Wanna Marry You” song.
We walked out of our wedding to Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” at the groom’s request because Bruce sang it on tour that year.
Yeah, he’s pretty devoted. And I love it.
Funny thing is, we love Bruce for different reasons. Smitty loves his hard rocking ways and I love the words he says. His lyrics had me from “Together Wendy…” I’m actually randomly including some of my faves in this blog including these:
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted
“The Promise Land”
Neither of us are fans of Bruce’s politics nor of the fact that he sold his entire music catalog for $500 million back in 2021. And, don’t even get me started about his shows being sold through Ticketmaster and Live Nation. The “man of the people” is doing his people no favors by offering tickets starting at maybe $200. Again though, I digress and could go on and on about the latter alone.
I met Bruce during his “Tunnel of Love” tour when I was working publicity and promotions at our local arena. I shook his hand (literally shaking inside) and got the cover of Smitty’s “Born to Run” personally autographed to him.
I actually kinda “called it” between him and now wife Patty Scialfa after seeing them exit a van backstage pretty chumming and while singing “Out in the Streets.” Sure enough, weeks later they were photographed on a balcony in Rome and the truth came out. I’m not a fan of her voice but like them together and feel like they’re true soul mates, like that their kids are good kids and have stayed out of the limelight, and like that first wife Julianna graciously chose to live a quiet life. Give the album “Tunnel of Love” another listen and you’ll get a feel for what was going on. It’s a great album and one of my favorites, but not a particularly happy one. Surprisingly, Bruce considers “Tougher Than the Rest” his best love song.
Speaking of kids, our daughter Kristen loves Bruce too. She went with us to his Dallas show and this couldn’t make us happier. Maybe it all started when I was pregnant and we saw Bruce in Dallas. In utero she was bopping to “Badlands!” Another show we all saw together was in New York City and we were lucky enough to meet Little Stevie backstage. It was the highlight of her first trip to NYC. Not the Empire State Building or Twin Towers. Not Central Park of 5th Avenue shopping. Nope. Bruce live in concert. Go figure. #raisedright.
That’s my story but I can’t speak for the millions of other fans. Thankfully Springsteen fans don’t have some cheesy name; they just love The Boss, follow The Boss, and don’t hesitate to tell anyone and everyone that his moniker rings true in that his shows are hands-down the best live concerts out there. They are raucous and retrospective, you’re up and you’re down, and chills and goosebumps are guaranteed. Think about it: three-to-four hours of rock with no opener and no break. You leave his shows exhausted. At 73-years-old he runs circles around all the young guns out there. He is the master showman. He is, the boss.
Remember all the movies, Terry we’d go see
Trying to learn to walk like the heroes
We thought we had to be
Well 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
The big and expected hits are of course a blast live but IMHO, “Out in the Streets” is a surprising live show stand out as is “She’s the One.” The sax on “Jungleland” is rock’s best sax solo and every sax player should learn it and know it and “Backstreets?” He officially says it 28 times if you’re counting. BTW: in case you don’t know, Bruce’s normal sax player of the past few years is Clarence Clemmons’ nephew, Jake. It’s all in the family.
I’ll end here by saying Smitty and I love listing and going over our “Top 10” Bruce songs. Many are agreed upon but others are not. He loves “Kitty’s Back,” but it doesn’t make my Top 10. My number 1 Bruce song? “Growin’ Up.” I’ve seen him sing it live once and chill up every time it comes on. Off his first album, “Greetings from Asbury Park” that was released 50 years ago, it really all goes back to his lyrics for me and the passion in his imperfect voice. The song is about being a bit lost, standing up when told to sit down, and then finding a “nice little place in the stars.” That’s kinda been my life. I’m older and wiser but after growin up I’m still born to run and am learning from my glory days.
I saw him last week in Dallas, my third Springsteen concert, and it was the best show I’ve ever seen. By anyone. Nobody delivers more onstage than Bruce.