I’m not one of those people who can’t understand how someone has never seen or done or eaten something, or gone somewhere, or felt or liked something. There are billions of us, and it’s simple odds that some of us have never seen Goonies, been on a roller coaster, or experienced brain freeze.
So it goes with musical preferences. For instance, I like the Canadian rock band Rush, but I understand why some people don’t. I get it; Geddy’s voice gets on your nerves. I have the same reaction to Jon Anderson, the lead singer from Yes. I understand that the band makes interesting and thought-provoking music, but the dude’s voice just makes me want to hit somebody.
More to the point here, I have been a Bruce Springsteen fan for decades, but I realize there are a lot of people who just can’t stand the guy. In fact, I encounter so many people who have an adverse reaction to Bruce that I sometimes wonder how he ever became the global sensation that he has undoubtedly become.
Even my brother Steve–who turned me on to Bruce back in the early-80s–and I have gotten to the point that Bruce’s apparent ego has become a turn off for us. I’ve seen Bruce in concert eight times, both with the E Street Band and as a solo artist, and, while I’ve enjoyed each one of those performances thoroughly, I just don’t have any desire to see him during his upcoming stand on Broadway. I haven’t even had much desire to listen to any of his music for a while.
Steve has been more jaded, and he has been off the Bruce train for a good bit longer than I have. That’s why I was surprised when he recently told me that he had gone on YouTube and put on a full show from 1980. He said it had proved to be great background music, and, knowing that I’m constantly looking for fitting musical compliment to my days at work around the house, he thought it might be something I’d find interesting.
It sounded like something I’d enjoy–plus, I always like to help my brother find ways to not completely become an old curmudgeon–so I set out to do it one day last week.
The show Steve had listened to was the Madison Square Garden show, but the first show that came up on my search was the Tempe, AZ show from about six weeks earlier, and I figured that’d be good enough. It certainly was.
Since then, I’ve listened to both of the shows in there entirety, finishing the MSG show on Monday–I had to break it up into two days–and I’ve realized once more why Bruce became the sensation that he did. The music is solid, yes, and the marketing of Born in the USA was spot on, but there have been others who made music that was just as solid and who marketed just as adroitly, but never achieved the far reach and heights of stardom that Bruce has achieved and reached.
The place where those acts have fallen short of Bruce’s efforts is a thing that understandably distinguishes some musicians from others, and that is this: How did they do when it came to doing that thing that makes a musician a musician? How did they perform when the time came to perform?
Therein lies the greatness that Bruce possesses, which has separated him from his peers. Those two shows both ran more than three hours and forty-five minutes, and he played 33 songs and 34 songs, respectfully.
He worked harder than his peers when he went to work, and that is something most of us can respect. (A note: If you don’t respect hard work, I don’t think there’s any place for you here.) What’s more, he still does. You don’t always get upwards to four hours, but all of the eight shows I’ve seen (between 1988 and 2014) have run at least 3:20.
So, in an age when it’s so hard to get your money’s worth anywhere, after the Broadway shows end, Bruce will go back out on tour. If you’re one who goes to show and who likes to get your money’s worth, it’s definitely something worth checking out. If, however, you’re one of those people who just can’t stand Bruce, don’t go, no matter what, because it’s just gonna suck twice as long.