Friday, August 22, 2003

Okay, here's my bit about Springsteen. Hopefully it won't come off like some kind of Eric Alterman/Backstreets Magazine fanatical rant, but here's what I have to say...

When Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" came out in the summer of 2002, the nation was still reeling from the terrorist attacks on NY and DC. His album, using images and emotions tied to Sept. 11 is full of hope, loss, redemption and the affirmation of life. It's a remarkably crafted album and I consider it one of his finest.

At that time in our lives, we were still coming to terms with Jacob's diagnosis. It had been over 6 months, but many of the emotions I was dealing with (or trying not to deal with) were still under the surface. I had my game face on. Then I bought this album.

"The Rising" proved to be a cathartic listening experience for me. So many of the emotions I had bottled up were released when I listened to songs like "Lonesome Day", "Nothing Man" and "Into the Fire". And one song in particular became my song to Julie. The upbeat melody countered the lyrics that seemed to be talking about life in the Malchus house. That song is "Waitin' On A Sunny Day". Here are the lyrics:

It's rainin' but there ain't a cloud in the sky
Musta been a tear from your eye
Everything'll be okay
Funny thought I felt a sweet summer breeze
Musta been you sighin' so deep
Don't worry we're gonna find a way

I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin' on a sunny day

Without you I'm workin' with the rain fallin' down
Half a party in a one dog town
I need you to chase the blues away
Without you I'm a drummer girl that can't keep a beat
And ice cream truck on a deserted street
I hope that you're coming to stay

I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin' on a sunny day

Hard times baby, well they come to tell us all
Sure as the tickin' of the clock on the wall
Sure as the turnin' of the night into day
Your smile girl, brings the mornin' light to my eyes
Lifts away the blues when I rise
I hope that you're coming to stay

Before this album came out I was already a Springsteen nut. Borderline psychotic. Oh, I wasn't above being critical ("Human Touch", anyone?) But he really could do no wrong as an artist. I have always been a lover of music. My mom raised me listening to the Broadway hits of the 70's. I used to ride around in grocery carts singing the songs from "Chorus Line" and "Chicago". And rock and roll became my escape, just like so many adolescent boys. I didn't discover Springsteen until I went to college. Once I started paying attention to what he was saying, though, I couldn't stop spinning his records (remember those) and playing his cd's.

An interesting thing happened in February. CBS aired an hour long Springsteen concert special which I recorded because I knew we'd being putting the kids down. As I was setting the VCR, Sophie asked what I was taping. When I told her, she told me she wanted to watch the "Springsteen" the next morning. Thinking there was no way she'd give up the "Rugrats" for a 50 year old rocker, I said yes. The first thing she asked to watch the next morning was.... “Rugrats�. But the next thing she wanted watch was, yes, the Springsteen "Rising" concert.

She loved it! Especially Soozie Tyrell, the violin player. Sophie would take a recorder she had, pull off the bottom piece and shove a drumstick in the end. This gave her a "violin". And with the other drum stick, she'd play along with all of the songs. On that same morning, I decided to try and watch the tape while giving Jake his breather. He only likes watching music videos during his breathing treatments (i.e. The Wiggles... or "WiWi's" as he says... and Sesame Street). You can imagine the pride that shot through me as he sat still for all of the songs. My God, there's nothing better in life than seeing your children latch on to the same fanatical things you appreciate. (That's a little much, huh?)

I have infected my family with Bruce-mania. Julie and I were married to a Springsteen song ("Book of Dreams"). Jacob loves jumping up and down to "Dancing in the Dark". My daughter knows who the freakin' Big Man is and knows about the changes made uptown when he joined the band. How cool is that.

Many (most) of you must think I'm a freak. But this music is my release. It helps me escape my problems and also deal with them. I can cry openly to a Springsteen song and no one will think I'm strange. And when you understand how much his music has impacted my life, particularly in the past year, you then get an idea of how powerful Sunday's concert was to me.

There were many factors that made this concert so special. I was with my brother. It was a glorious, outdoor summer concert. Our seats were great. But most importantly, it was just a good show. No big messages. A great mix of powerful, emotional songs combined with garage band rockers. It was one of those nights where I knew what songs he would play for sure, had an idea of what songs he'd probably play, and was still surprised. When I got home, I wrote down some notes. These four stuck out at me (mind you, most of my notes were "Max was on fire tonight" and "Nils was awesome!")

"Darlington County": I made Sophie her own Springsteen tape and this is one of the tunes on it. The day of the show, we were doing errands and this song was playing in the van. She asked me if Bruce (she calls him Bruce now) would play this one. I didn't think so, but I said, "Maybe, Soph." As soon as I heard the guitar lick, I couldn't help but think of my little girl.

"Empty Sky": Halfway through this moving number about the twin towers, Budd leaned in to me and said, "I can't believe it's almost been two years." I read several "legitimate" reviews the day after the show and they all were disappointed for Springsteen's lack of "messages" to the crowd. I think this here is a perfect example that the music did the talking.

"You're Missing": I openly wept. Such a haunting, sad song about loss. I could only think of all of the families who have lost a child to CF. And I thought of my son.

"Waitin' On A Sunny Day": The only thing that could have made this song better is if my wife and kids had been there to sing it with me.

That's enough about Bruce Springsteen. This entry is WAY too long. I hope you all get where I'm coming from and don't think I'm too nuts. It may be a little late for that, huh?


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