Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mr. Bruce Springsteen and the Culture of Rock and Roll Dorkiness

This is late, so let me get right to it.

It's a bit of a long story, involving too many tickets, a lost wallet, sick children, and a slice of pizza. Suffice to say that its the second of March, 35 degrees American outside, and I am sitting high above and behind Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, stretched out among a few seats, with no one to dance with.

The last time I saw Bruce was in Ottawa, if you remember, and that was with my new friends, Jimmy and Gary. Now, sitting alone among 16,000 fans at the Bell Centre, I know no one.

At a certain age, you stop lining up early outside for tickets to your favorite band; you stop living your life around their schedules. Not so Bruce fans. As I'd been explaining to someone, if you have any obsession, no matter how cool it may seem—golf to tattoos to rock and roll—you walk a fine line between cool and dork.

In trying to buy tickets for the Montreal show, I strode deeply through Springsteen fandom, encountering people with CyberNoms like JaneyFreehold, Born2Rn, RosalitaSanDiego, KyleWilliam456—obscure references to characters and titles and places in the Springsteen ouevre. Kinda like Star Wars, but with leather jackets and jeans.

And very close to obsessive dork. But hey, then what am I? I try hard not to ever become so obsessed by anything it takes over any aspect of my life. But we all have our obsessions. I'm no different.

Having said all that, I can appreciate Springsteen from a fan's perspective, and from someone who knows what he is and what he isn't. Here's a guy who had every dream come true in his life, someone who can tell his life story and your life story better than you can. Someone obsessive about controlling every aspect of his career. Fans know that.

He is not the Messiah. And I would never let a celebrity tell me how to vote.

But we look for ourselves in the artists we admire, they say what we can't say. It's why you send a song to someone to tell them that you love them.

When he speaks to a larger American picture in his work, it strikes a chord in people. Simple ideas—decency, goodness, the power of rock and roll revival, the best in people—come through, but not as Pollyanna. It's delivered loud with blazing guitars and pounding drums—like Steinbeck through a Fender Twin.

This wasn't the best Springsteen show I had ever seen. That will never happen again, and I'm okay with that.

But high above the stage, as the house lights went up and everyone gleefully sang along on "Dancing in the Dark," and did that little dance like in the video when they were 20, I remembered why he means a little something to me and so many.

"...And when they said sit down, I stood up, ooh, growing up..."
—You Know Who

1 comment:

Blue said...

Sorry... I still feel bad about leaving you all alone...