My night at Springsteen on Broadway

NEW YORK – Here’s where a Bruce Springsteen fanatic tells you Springsteen on Broadway surpassed the hype and my expectations, where my Saturday night in New York was like you at the Super Bowl.

Much has been made about how sportswriters tend to love the guy. I have good friends in the business who share my feelings for him.SpringsteenSigns

At the core, we like the tunes and the authenticity. But we’re jealous of the storytelling. In his songs, and in the stories he shared that revealed the process of his life turning into his music, he uses more active verbs, paints with more colors and evokes more feeling than in anything I read, about sports or anything else.

And I know I can’t and won’t approach it in my work, so to be near it is extraordinary, to hear him detail a family, a friend, a neighborhood, a road trip, a draft notice, a marriage.

Springsteen was really funny at times, talking about putting on the clothes of a factory worker despite never having stepped foot in a factory, about this show being his first five-day-a-week job, about being the Born-to-Run guy and living 10 minutes from the hometown he wanted to bolt, about having no driver’s license and not being able to get an automatic car out of first gear not long before he wrote Racing in the Streets.

“I’m that good,” he said to a big laugh.


But it’s the relationship talk that was most impactful and moving: His continual search for connection with his deceased dad, a tough and often-cold man who struggled with depression, a guy whose qualities his son took on to sometimes substitute for the love he sought; His admiration for his ever-upbeat mom, seven years now with Alzheimer’s, but still compelled to dance; His affection for his big-in-every-way saxophone player Clarence Clemons, who died in 2011; His curiosity about who took his place in Vietnam when he was deferred, and his mourning for friends whose names are etched on the wall in D.C.

I’ve seen Springsteen at a lot of places, the biggest in New Jersey. At Giants Stadium in 2003 I marveled at how, by raising his index finger across his mouth and offerings a soft shhh, he could quiet 55,000 people.

At the 975-seat Walter Kerr theater on West 48th Street near Broadway that hush was the expectation. You let him operate and listen intently and while there was room for applause, of course, it was no sing-along – though the woman next to me attempted it at the start of Born to Run. (I didn’t tell her to shut it, but I did consider it.)

IMG 1937

After missing out on multiple occasions, I was lucky to get a window to buy tickets when the show was extended a third time, through December. After missing two or three times on Ticketmaster trying for a pair, I settled for one and got it.

So I came to New York to see friends and I flew solo Saturday night in row D, seat 26 in the mezzanine, likely as good a vantage point I’ll ever have to hear and see him. I was part of the gathering on the street before and after the show, watching some in more prime position get a handshake, a close-up, and autograph, a word.

There was a great piece of the show near the end when he went in great detail offering thanks to us, for giving him place and purpose and meaning. He said that he hoped he’s been able to give some of those things and others back.

He certainly has with me.

Next time you tell me I’ve got to see something to really understand it, I’ll trust you a bit more if you’ll agree with me that’s the case here.

Not everyone gets it, gets him.

I don’t really understand how you can't. But I sure hope you have something that gets you in a similar way.

You are not authorised to post comments.

Comments powered by CComment

Paul Midday logo 2b 2