All right, let’s get to the other a couple more of these.
Were it not for his monumental live shows or his ability as a storyteller, both in his lyrics and his live song intros, Bruce would have possibly fallen by the wayside. Certainly there are other singer/songwriters with above average chops that we’ve never heard of. But Bruce can spin a good yarn, and he was never in a hurry to get off the stage. Grouped together with his singing and playing abilities, he found a recipe for great success.
So, the sixth and seventh songs on my list are two live performances, one which is songs about as old as you can find when you’re looking for live performances on YouTube, and one about as new as you can find. I like both of the studio versions of these songs, but these live performances really showcase the artist Bruce was when he was just getting started and how far he’s come.
“Thundercrack” (Live at the Ahmanson Theater, Los Angeles, 1973)
I’ll never understand how “Mary, Queen of Arkansas” made it onto Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey and “Thundercrack” didn’t. To me, “Thundercrack” is evidence of the quintessential early Springsteen. It’s catchy, raucous, and fun. Still, it didn’t, and it would have to wait 25 years before finally being released on an LP, Disk One of 1998’s Tracks box set.
It remained an occasional concert treat, however, and long time fans knew of its greatness whether the wide world knew of its existence or not.
This first version is taken from Los Angeles’s Ahmanson Theater’s show on May 1, 1973. Bruce was 23, and Greetings had been in stores for less than four months. He opened for Dr. Hook and New Riders of the Purple Sage, and he was given time enough to play six songs.
Becky and I were two of those treated to a live performance of “Thundercrack,” when he opened with it at a show we saw at The Spectrum in Philly back in 2009. Man, was I jazzed.
“The Wish” (Live at The Walter Kerr Theater, New York City, 2018)
And from being a 23 year-old allowed to perform six songs opening for Dr. Hook to Broadway. Bruce was 69 last year, when he played Broadway, and, as previously mentioned, a lot of that road between those two performances was built on his ability to tell a story, especially in his song intros.
Bruce wrote songs about his father occasionally, but as far as I know this is the only one about his mother. His testimony to the strong life of his mother is an inspiration to all of us who had strong mothers.
“The Gift,” didn’t make it onto Tunnel of Love, and I just can’t imagine that song being added to that already amazing collection of songs. So, like “Thundercrack,” it had to wait for Tracks to be released.
I’m including a Broadway performance, as well as the studio version. If you have the ten or so minutes for the live version, I highly recommend it; however, if you don’t, at least take the time to listen to the original. It’s just a sweetly fantastic homage to a woman we could all learn a bit from.
Enjoy, and I’ll see you back here soon.