Full Circle: The Magic of a Bruce Springsteen Show
Wednesday, September 14, 2016. A date I won’t forget because I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert! My first since 1992’s Human Touch tour. The entire experience was wonderful: driving to Foxborough, MA, meeting other Bruce fans in the hotel (where I met my new Bruce buddy, Dawn), the drive to the stadium. But the magic didn’t stop with the concert; it was just what I needed to get in touch with something inside myself that hasn’t seen the light of day in many moons.
Speaking of the moon, I couldn’t ask for a better night. It rained pretty heavily an hour or two before the 7 pm show. Was I concerned? Not at all! I just knew nothing could stop what promised to be an awesome event. And then I found out that it was the last night of the US tour – this held even more promise: perhaps Bruce would break his record for the longest show? A record which he just made in New Jersey a few nights before. And to think I bought these tickets having no idea that it was the last night of the tour! Well the rain cleared up, we got into the stadium (without my purse which is another story related to my awakening) and found our seats on the floor. Now, this was my first time at Gillette Stadium outside Boston, but I must admit it is something. Huge! People of all ages (have I aged that much?), all friendly and excited as the dark clouds parted and an orange sunset showed through. Then the almost full moon started rising and the show began!
Well, I’ve given birth to and raised kids, been a PTA Mom, lost parents and a husband since 1992, but I was not prepared for the onslaught of feelings as Bruce played music from the beginning of his recording career. From the beginning of my life! I felt such a personal connection to the music that night as memories of the first time I heard Bruce came back to me: it was the Darkness of the Edge of Town album on New Year’s Eve in Newport, RI with Doug Graham, a boyfriend who was also a musician. Our relationship didn’t work out, but it was the start of my relationship with Bruce and his music. I listened to that album with a concentration I didn’t know I had. Doug told me I was going to wear the album out! This led to my purchase and repeated listening to his other albums: The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle and Greetings from Asbury Park, and of course Born to Run.
The cool wind blowing, the music sweet and wild and the full moon rising created a series of moments I’ll never forget. Bruce and the E Street Band were playing music from the story of my life! The reasons I loved Bruce’s music so much and was such a fan before my life went in other directions drifted back to me. His lyrics and delivery got me in touch with some feelings — then and now– sad and hopeful, submissive and defiant, loving and longing, that I had packed away someplace many years ago, long before I started on my somewhat crooked path to adulthood. Thoughts and feelings I had somehow never admitted or thought of for years were awakened. It was like being at a revival! I’m hopeful, disappointed, expectant and angry – still. But it’s okay because I’m alive! I survived.
Several other things happened that night that led to this re-awakening of sorts, one of which was the pursuit of a place to stash my purse during the show (I could not bring it into the stadium and refused to throw it away). This was ultimately successful thanks to Mark and Marny of Waterbury, CT. My friend commented that I was, what were his words: “stubborn enough to not give up.” Well, yeah! Closer consideration of this event led to the following observation: First: that I prefer to call this quality “committed” or perhaps “persistent.” Second, that whatever I choose to call it, it is a good quality, one I realize I’m happy to possess.
Of equal importance is the awareness that I followed my vision and did the work to accomplish it, despite the odds being against me and despite people thinking I was crazy. “Why this is and can continue to be an asset,” I thought. “Just walk in the direction of your goal,” an inner voice said. “The outcome is unknown, but what the hell? What do you have to lose?” In this instance I had my purse to lose, that’s what, and I refused to give up. I went after what I wanted with a velocity previously saved for the pursuit of…less attractive objectives and substances.
Toward the end of the concert, Bruce mentioned something about workers outside collecting food for the hungry, “people on the front lines” of the cause. Those words sat with me for the rest of the night and the next day. My “commitment,” combined with a cause that is close to my heart, can allow me to work towards a goal that, even if partially successful, will touch others’ lives as Bruce has touched mine through his words and music. The outcome is not certain, but what do I have to lose? I too can be one of the workers on the front lines.
Well, now I’m home and writing this just 3 short days after the concert and I’m still reveling in these feelings. I dug out my “Darkness” and “Born to Run” albums (along with several others that have special meaning to me from back in the day) and listened to them at my preferred volume (LOUD) and sang, danced and cried. I remember now why songs like “Darkness” “Streets of Fire,” “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Badlands” touched me so. Those many years ago, I too was in the darkness, and “I heard somebody call my name.” Well it wasn’t a pleasant darkness I experienced at that time, but I guess it was necessary to bring me to today.
Today, another voice beckons from the darkness. This time I sense it is a different darkness, not the one inviting me to heartbreak and trouble, not at all the same voice as 30+ years ago. This one beckons like a light at the end of a tunnel. It says “take that step, don’t be afraid.” As a friend recently pointed out: “we are always creating, even when it looks like we’re not. The magic is still happening.”
My ideas are coming together. There’s more to be revealed, and the magic I experienced at Bruce’s concert has opened the door to hope and possibility once again. Another type of magic. It’s been years in the making, yet it has been brewing the entire time.
Thank you, Bruce and the E Street Band. It’s been a helluva ride. It’s made me realize that I am once again looking forward to the next step. I’m happy to be alive.