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On Saturday, the 3 of us went to see Bruce Springsteen. I’ve written about his concert, and about his most recent album, which I’m obsessing a bit over.

The concert was at the Gillette stadium in Foxboro, Mass., where the Patriots play. This is a new stadium that was built looking backwards instead of forwards – the only way to get there is by car, there are no public transportation options. And then, they charge $40 to park. $40!!

So, the traffic getting there was horrendous. It was backed up on the Interstate 6 miles from the exit, and then for another 3 miles to the stadium. Those 9 miles took more than 45 minutes to drive.

The concert was supposed to start at 7:30; we got to our seats at 8 pm. Within minutes, a violent thunderstorm was right overhead, with flashing lightening and torrential rain. The end result was the concert didn’t start until 9:20. It ended at 12:10; we got home around 4:30 am. I was jetlagged all Sunday.

The concert was great, although not perfect conditions. The acoustics were horrible, and we were so far from the stage we couldn’t see anything, and had to watch the concert on the TV screens. But: The energy in the crowd was awesome, the music was great, and Bruce had tons of energy. The set list was wonderful. *

What impressed me was the wide age range of the fans. Right next to me was a young guy – early 20s at the oldest, who was there with his brother, mother and father. He knew all the words to many of the songs, and not the recent ones – he sang along to “Born to Run,” which came out many years before he was born. In front of us was two older couples, I’d guess in their mid to late 50s. One of the women also sang along to many of his songs.

What also impressed me was the barebones stage, the raw power of his voice and the talent of the musicians, and how those carried the show and none of the practiced prancing of more modern day singers like Britney Spears. The man is 59 years old, and he runs around the stage and kicks and slides and belts out songs from a huge playlist. Lots of audience interaction, too – he waded into the fans and collected signs suggesting songs.

It was awesome.

Speaking of Springsteen – I want to recommend his latest album, "Magic," which I’ve been obsessively listening to for the last couple weeks.

I’ve listened to his music for years, but I wasn’t a huge fan at first. The lyrics of most of his early material were not written for me. I’m not a blue-collar worker, I didn’t grow up in a NJ beach town. I didn’t marry young, or yearn to escape on a motorcycle. I wasn’t alienated.

“The Rising,” his album that came out after 9/11, was probably the first collection of songs I could relate to. He had matured, he was no longer writing about adolescent boys or working class men, and instead was making more overt political commentary and responding to current events. Many songs on this album touched me. They helped me mourn the events of 9/11.

Many songs on “Magic” are protest music disguised as pop. He’s not mourning any more – he’s angry about how Bush has ruined this country, and that’s what many of the songs are about. But it's not overt -- the message is there, but you have to search for it.

In an interview with the NY Times, he said the title track is about “the manufacture of illusion, about the Bush administration’s stated commitment to creating its own reality.” Yet the lyrics never once mention politics or politicians.

“Living in the Future” – I love that title, shiver – is wishful thinking, hoping we’ll wake up from this national nightmare and maybe it’ll all go away. “We’re living in the future and none of this has happened yet,” the narrator says. Don’t we wish. “My faith’s been torn asunder, tell me is that rolling thunder or just the sinking sound of something righteous going under.”

There are two songs about dead/wounded soldiers, brought home from Iraq.

In “Last to Die” he asks, “Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake.” (which, apparently, is taken from testimony by John Kerry in front of Congress about Vietnam)

And “Long Walk Home” grabs me on two levels. When I first heard it I thought it was about small town life. Now I realize the small town is a metaphor for American values. “Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.” Getting back to that America is going to take a long time, he’s saying. We’ve moved so far from our basic values, he says, that, “It’s going to be a long walk home.”

I know I feel that way almost every day when I listen to the news.

I know many Springsteen fans are furious that he’s making his political beliefs more public. I am bowled over by the way he’s done it in this album. He’s a brilliant lyricist and his songs are like poetry but his message is hard-core.

* Summertime Blues
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Promised Land
Spirit in the Night
Tunnel of Love
Little Latin Lupe Lu
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Hungry Heart
Who'll Stop the Rain
Murder Incorporated
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
I'm Goin' Down
Born to Run
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
American Land
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March 2012

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