This has really been a long strange week. The first half of the week was actually pretty normal, other than the working too hard thing. But then I got the call from my friend Kim. An old friend of ours JimCreasy had died. Now Jim was supposed to die back around the end of the 70's. He had been diagnosed with diabetes and according to him, didn't have much time left. Shortly after that , he moved to Kentucky to be with family. In 1999, he came out to visit. This would be his last visit. He wasn't expected to live much longer. But live he did. He came very close to making it to my wedding, but at the last minute his doctor discouraged him from going. When we went to Nashville last month, we were hoping to meet up with him. Again, it fell through. Jim Loved The Who. To him, Pete Townsend was the closest thing to God on earth. His love of music was as great as any one I know. Back in the 90's his album collection was around 10,000. His 45 collection was twice that. Every year he made a couple dozenCDs (in the old days it was tapes) of rare weird fun Christmas music. I was lucky enough to be on the short list that received these wonderfulCDs . Last weekend Jim wrote me and asked me to send him some of the Bruce boots from the tour this year. He wasn't a big fan, probably because you can only have one God, but he had learned to respect him. My friend Deborah, one of the biggest Bruce fans I know, was one of Jim's closest friends. This has been really tough on her. We've been talking throughout the weekend; part Jim, part Bruce. She convinced Chris Carter to dedicate a song to him on his show today. She also gave him a boot of the only E Street Beatles cover. Meanwhile, I'm the hub for all the information about Jim. So, while I'm emotionally excited about the Springsteen shows, I'm also in the middle of... all of this.
We caught the 5PM plane to Oakland, arrived at around 6:30 (it was so nice to be breathing the clean air up there), took a cab to the hotel (he went the wrong way, of course... It was his first day on the job), convinced him to wait while we checked in and then jumped back in the cab and headed over to the Oracle Center (or whatever the name is these days). Arriving at around 7:30, we had a good 45 minutes to relax (Bruce never starts his shows on time) which allowed us to chat with Bruce fans. You can bad mouth the fans of today all you want (I'll never disagree), but Springsteen fans are a different breed. We had nice conversations with 3 different groups of people around us. One gentleman left early, but handed me his card and said, "keep this", several times.
We were at the back of the lower level (the last row actually); Not bad seats. But as soon as I saw that we were under an awning, I got nervous. The sound often bounces off of awnings and makes it real hard to enjoy the music let alone understand what is being said. The lights went out and the crowd roared. This was a good west coast crowd. Although they really had no idea what to do duringThundercrack (hell, I barely knew what to do), they still came through time and again when required. Yes, if you haven't peaked at any of the set lists for the tour, Bruce has brought out a real real real oldie. One that has only been released on his Tracks box set. And the sound? It was great. Maybe the cleanest sound I've had at a Bruce show, when not up close. It might have been a bit loud, but that could have just been that I don't go to arena shows anymore.
This tour is a more compact show, clocking in usually at around two and a quarter hours; which is exactly where we ended up on Friday night. Still, he fits in 23 plus songs each night. This is accomplished by cutting out all the talking. Bruce's raps are minimal, giving interesting but quick intros to "Magic" and"Livin ' in the Future" and the shortest band intros of the E Street's entire concert life. What this means though, is that the pacing has to be different. No time for a slow middle, which he normally has. And although the pace does drop at times, the band quickly picks it up on the next song. The back to back combo of Tunnel of Love into Racing in the Streets, was excellent, but may have slowed down the show a bit too much. Had this been a 3 hour show, it would have worked much better. He did come out of that duo with a bang, rocking his way through "Working on the Highway", a great replacement for the usual Cadillac Ranch or Ramrod.
Dancing in the Dark is back as a regular on the set list. Audience participation is so important for E Street shows and throwing this one next to Born To Run really creates a tremendous amount energy within the crowd. It's like a fight, with BTR providing the deadly punch and DITD finishing us off with the knockout punch. The show always closes with American Land, Bruce's Seegerish fiddlin' rave. It is a great closer; one that keeps everyone on their feet, clapping and singing.
After the show I pulled out the card that was handed to me and read the note the guy had written on it. He had lost his wife to breast cancer this year. The Bruce shows were obviously something they shared, so this show must have, for him, been bitter sweet. We all want to share the Bruce experience with others. This was his way of reaching out.
I was so tired after the show, I literally hit the bed and was fast asleep. In the morning we headed into The City to catch up with Maria's family. In between meals, Maria did some work while I hit Rasputin Records. Rasputin in San Francisco and San Jose has a reputation for having a much better progressive rock selection then Amoeba, and I walked away with a nice selection ofCDs including some that I never had on vinyl including music from Yes, Pink Floyd, Steve Hackett and Steve Howe. I also picked up some used CDs that were on my recent to-buy list: A Fine Frenzy, Iron and Wine and The Cake Sale (really cool gathering of musicians to support world wide fare trade including: LisaHannigan, Glen Hansard, Damien Rice and Josh Ritter). And fitting the weekend and the last month, I found a live CD from Shooter Jennings who we saw at the Grand Ole Opry. The band is introduced on the CD by Little Steven. Hows that for timing.
Okay, I'm ready for the next two shows this week!
Reason to Believe
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Tunnel of Love
Racing in the Street
Working on the Highway
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark