Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Is The Reason …

Ok … for years I have found myself in arguments over the merits of Bruce Springsteen. And, to give the reader full disclosure; since the first time I saw Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band play live (a four night stand at The Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA – in 1975), there has been no other act to even come close to delivering on the promise of rock and roll than these guys do. There has been no other act that has delivered (in recordings) more life affirming music to this kid.

Back in the day, when he was performing the cover of The Animals; “It’s My Life” – complete with the story that carried with it the complete lack of understanding between a father and his son – I was hanging on every word. I was there with him – agreeing with every syllable … trying to understand how my father could treat his son with the same indifference that Springsteen spoke about in the prologue. The heartfelt terror of trying to understand a father and son relationship between two people who were at odds with each other. At that point – the bond was made – and I’ve stayed with this artist through the entire ride.

Well, this past few months have sucked. I found out I had cancer. Luckily, I’ve been blessed to have an amazing surgeon cut me open and (hopefully) removed all the cancer that had scared the shit out of me just a few weeks ago. Add to that, my Dad died. Sure, he was 85 – and it wasn’t unexpected – but still … death freaks me out. Then my cousin died – and that was unexpected – and freaked me out. Then there were two more deaths of friends – all in the same week. I mean … what the fuck!?!?!

So, tonight, one of my friends, a cousin who just lost his sister, and he’s also going through a break-up of his marriage, had a Christmas party.

It was an insane evening. There were all types of folks dealing with all types of loss & tragedy … all these folks dealing with death, divorce, disease, unemployment … you name it – it was represented tonight.

Well, the drinks were flowing, the stories were being told … and somewhere in the middle of it all, our host decided show off his new home entertainment center by slipping in the DVD of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live At Hyde Park. And the party was grooving. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t like everything stopped and we all sat and watch the show – but there was a vibe that was palpable.

Then “Out In The Streets” hit. And, at this point, the party did stop. Folks who had been scattered throughout the house all seemed to end up in the living room. Someone – I’m not ever sure who – pushed the volume control to a level that would have made it easy for the neighbors to enjoy the track. And then … the chorus came along.

Once the chorus hit – all bets were off. Folks surprised me. There were kids in their 20’s and others pushing 60 – all jammed into the living room – singing at the top of their lungs.

And, for just that one moment – their troubles were put on hold. For just that one moment, all the bullshit that we (and, for that matter- everyone) have to deal with just to get through the day … was forgotten. There was joy. There was dancing. There were folks who could not have sung you one line of the verses – but were singing the living shit out of this chorus. And that’s when it hit me. Without overstating it in any way, shape or form, for folks who buy in to what Bruce is selling – his music can heal.

I was literally floored. As I looked around the room I saw folks dancing, folks hugging, and – most importantly – folks singing at the top of their lungs – just looking for that momentary release from the pressures and hardships that life can deliver. And … luckily … we all found it in a great little rock & roll song.

And I thought to myself … there it is … that’s the reason!! That’s the reason I’ve been a fan of this guy’s music for so long. That’s the reason we wait in line for tickets – that’s the reason we go see multiple nights … that’s the reason … we all need a release. And, in my humble opinion, there is no better release to be found than in the joy & redemption of a great rock and roll show. And, for my money, no one delivers a better rock & roll show than Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.

Some nights … you just need to sing.