Sometime late last year (I don’t really know when, I never saw it, to be honest), a black and white movie called Nebraska hit theaters, and it made all the rounds during awards’ season. Wikipedia has just informed me the plot runs something along the lines of a 21st century Don Quixote, with a father and son embarking on a cross-country journey to pursue a madcap scheme of the father’s. With all the free time I have now, this one’ll probably be on the Netflix cue before long.
September, 1982 (I’m told, I wasn’t born yet), the music world produced its equivalent of a black and white movie, a Bruce Springsteen album called Nebraska. It’s only ten songs long, the whole thing is just Springsteen himself with a microphone, a harmonica, and an acoustic guitar, and it was all recorded over the span of just one afternoon in Springsteen’s living room. It was originally intended as a series of demos, there wasn’t ONE single from it released to the charts, and it’s one of The Boss’ most lesser known works – and music critics now agree that it’s some of the most astonishing songwriting ever done.
Remember these two facts, they’ll come up again in the future.
With junior year at Holy Cross now OFFICIALLY in the rearview mirror – holy mackerel – it was time for summer ’14 to begin. That meant – SPRING(STEEN) BREAK!!! Yes, the lesser known E-Streeters you’ve been reading about on this blog here went on an epic journey this week to go see the genuine article. We’ve all of us been to plenty of Bruce shows in the past, but I’ll be the first one to unashamedly admit it – we’re addicted. Explaining a Bruce Springsteen concert to someone who hasn’t been to one is like trying to explain how the Mona Lisa smells – you just can’t do it (and it’s weird when you try). The 64 year old legend radically changes his concert every night, and literally no two shows are even close to being the same. For most other bands, I grant, that’d mean swapping a song or two in the encore; elaborate special effect gimmicks usually limit the amount of randomness in a set. But when you’ve got nothing but a flatbed stage and the tightest band in the land backing you, the sky’s the limit. That makes it not only worth it, it practically makes it necessary to go back again…and again…and again…
The guy’s got 40+ years and eighteen studio albums’ worth of material to pull from, so you’d think Bruce would have enough to work with in terms of song selection, but NO: the Clash, the Rolling Stones, ACDC, the Bee Gees, Lorde for Pete’s sake, have all had their songs covered by the E Street Band in this latest tour. No-one, and I mean no-one, has nothing short of an amazing time at a Springsteen concert as a result of all this fun, so I hope you can understand why all of us follow him around like we do. They don’t call him the Boss for nuthin’.
Since Bruce wasn’t making any stops in the Massachusetts area this time around, that meant my Dad and I had to go to him. The scheme was hatched a few months ago, and so began our first ever father-son road trip. First stop: Albany, NY! Besides a family vacation a few years ago that included a stop in Cooperstown, I’d never really been anywhere in NY north of the Sleepy Hollow area, so this was all uncharted territory for me. There are a lot of people at Holy Cross from the circa-Albany area, and now that I’ve been, let me say: it’s beautiful up there! We arrived a few hours before showtime, and took advantage of the opportunity to check out the Empire State Capital!
After a quick bite, it was showtime! My Dad and I took our seats directly behind the stage, and strapped in for three hours of pure rock’n’roll. Opening with a cover of INXS’s “Don’t Change,” Bruce sprinted headfirst into – I’m saying it here and now – the best concert I’ve ever been to, and he never looked back. Sitting in with the E-Street band this tour is Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, whom we sat directly behind, and the man is a shot of adrenaline into a full tank of gasoline. In a word, he’s also a wizard; human beings just can’t do what he does with a six string. My hands were sore, my feet were sore, my ears were ringing, and I had entirely lost my voice by the end of it all, and it’s a good a time as I can remember having in recent memory. And then I did it all again the next night!!
We booked it back to the car and drove an hour south to Newburgh, NY, where we spent the night, dissecting the epic-ness of what we had just witnessed over the last three hours, and preparing ourselves for the next night. And what happened the next night? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ON SPRING(STEEN) BREAK 2014!!!