Thoughts About Bruce On Broadway
dogtrax, Kevin's Meandering Mind, May 30, 2019
(I guess I never posted this … it’s been in my bin for some time. New Bruce music coming out had me thinking of this viewing again. — Kevin) I have a friend who has long been a diehard Bruce Springsteen fan, who watched the Netflix special “Bruce on Broadway” (and even tried to score […]

(I guess I never posted this … it’s been in my bin for some time. New Bruce music coming out had me thinking of this viewing again. — Kevin)

I have a friend who has long been a diehard Bruce Springsteen fan, who watched the Netflix special “Bruce on Broadway” (and even tried to score tickets during Bruce’s run in New York City) who dislikes the Springsteen he sees up on that stage. My friend thinks Springsteen comes across as too pompous and unapproachable and, well, fake.

Which I find interesting, since Bruce begins the show by telling us, his audience, that he is indeed a fake, a magician who invented his hard-scrabble persona for the stage of rock and roll by emulating his father, the one who showed little love during Bruce’s childhood but whose country-wide unexpected travel to see Bruce in California before his first child was born is one of the emotional touchstones of this concert. He never worked in a factory. He never worked as a car mechanic. His sole job has been making music.

I appreciate Springsteen as a songwriter (although I find the Born in the USA album years of over-produced pop a terrible turn for him, even though I know it was made him into a star) and I was impressed with how well he commands the stage when I saw him and the E Street Band years ago. He had us at the first power chord.

I find it sadly ironic that while he uses his stage to advocate for racial tolerance and economic equity, and weaves those messages into his songwriting, his longtime core audience of blue-collar listeners is likely the same ones who voted Trump into office. You can tell he thinks about this, too.

Unlike my friend, I watched this special, knowing what it was: a performance on the stage and not just another acoustic concert.  Bruce spent a year or so working on these stories, the flow and the pacing, night after night. He framed his songs as stories of his life, and as a songwriter, I am always fascinated to hear a musician peel the paint back on where songs come from. Bruce does that, although sometimes he reaches a bit too much for a grandiose approach (this is what bothers my friend).

A few things that stood out for me after watching Bruce on Broadway (you can stream/listen to the whole album on YouTube if you have 2 1/2 hours to kill):

Peace (singing it),
Kevin