I seem to have come full circle; last night I saw Springsteen perform The River in almost its entirety, just as I did getting on for forty years ago when I saw him perform live for the first time. My Springsteen initiation was in a squat in the late 1970s where Racing In The Street haunted the corridors throughout the night, someone having it on continual play elsewhere in the house.
That night he crept into my soul in a way no other artist has before or since.
I can no longer count the number of times I’ve seen Springsteen perform but like your first kiss, you always remember your first time! Mine is etched indelibly in my brain from the moment when a friend had casually pinned gig tickets on the corkboard in his kitchen as a surprise (perhaps that’s why I ended up marrying the guy), to hanging around the stage door like a groupie, hoping for a last glimpse as he was whisked away in a blacked out SUV at the end of the night.
I’ve had my Springsteen moments over the decades. I’ve watched him from the Royal Box, I’ve sat ten rows from the stage (my first gig) and I’ve stood backstage watching sound checks. I have his handwritten set list and an autographed backstage pass. I have a mug from which Springsteen gargled before a gig and once I even found myself standing not three feet from the man but was so star struck that all I could do was stare at the floor in panic.
But I’ve also paid my dues – standing in the pouring rain shoulder to shoulder with 70,000 other fans singing Waiting On A Sunny Day; queueing for hours for tickets; wading through muddy stadiums or joining tens of thousands of fans calling for “Broooooce” as we wait for that magical moment when he first steps on stage.
I like the recent album-themed shows. A couple of years ago I saw him perform Born To Run and Darkness at two different stadiums in the same week.
But I can’t shake the feeling that these nostalgic performances revisiting our [the fans] youth are some sort of thank you and farewell.
The day Springsteen stops touring will be the day my heart breaks just a little knowing that I will never again experience the elation of his live show.
Like fellow blogger Jersey Dreaming said to me recently “Everything comes back to Springsteen…” And you know what, if all this makes me a sad sap then I really don’t care! I know Springsteen isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – a bit like Marmite people seem to love him or loathe him. But I’m the lucky one to feel such a powerful connection that has enriched my life.
I know that one day when I turn on the radio I will hear the devastating news that Springsteen has died. And I know that all my friends will think of me at that moment and offer their sympathies as if I had lost someone close to me. And so I will have – someone who is inextricably linked with my life. In fact my children know that when they carry me out feet first it is to be accompanied by Should I Fall Behind, and I suspect that after I’m gone, every time they catch so much as a snippet of his music their hearts will miss a beat.