I somehow did it again. I lucked into impossible-to-get tickets to see Bruce Springsteen, up close and personal. (See HERE where I actually got to meet him!!) After months and months of trying, I finally got tickets to Springsteen on Broadway at the small and intimate Walter Kerr Theatre in NYC. If you're not sure just what Springsteen on Broadway is all about, one thing to know is that it is NOT a concert. It's a one-man Broadway show consisting of Bruce, his guitar, and a piano on a bare stage where he shares stories from his memoir Born to Run interspersed with his music from whatever time period the story is in. It is a chance in a lifetime to see Bruce in a personal and emotional setting. Of course I had to go!
I got my tickets in early April for a mid August show, and waiting for the day to finally arrive was almost as hard as getting the tickets in the first place. And since I could only get two tickets, deciding who the lucky one to accompany me was equally challenging. In the end, it worked out for my sister Peg to go. Neither one of us had ever been to NYC, but we were both over-the-moon excited to go. (You can read all about our 48 hours in The Big Apple here.)
|Is this real???|
What I will do is highlight my top three moments from Springsteen on Broadway. The entire show was mesmerizing, of course, from the moment Bruce took center stage, alone on that almost bare stage. But these three scenes touched my soul to the core and moved me to tears like none of the others. Don't get me wrong--I had tears throughout the entire performance--just not the streaming-down-my-cheeks-about-to-sob-outloud kind.
Note: I took notes during the show. I know--really?? But I wanted to remember EVERYTHING! I didn't let the note taking interfere with my complete focus on the performance, and my notes were a complete mess as a result. I kept my eyes on the stage as I wrote, the theatre was dark with the house lights off, and I only had a black sharpie to write with. But I was able to translate every word the next day!!!
Here, then, in chronological order, are the moments that touched my heart and broke me the most at
Springsteen on Broadway
The Big Man Joins the Band
About an hour into the show, after talking about growing up in New Jersey and failure and small successes in the Jersey band scene, Bruce talked about what makes a true band. He talked a bit about the E Street Band with a big focus on Clarence. He said “I still carry the story the Big Man whispered in my ear and the Big Man in my heart every night when I walk onstage,” he said. “Clarence was elemental, a force of nature in my life.” Although not my first tears of the night, this moment almost had me sobbing. Throughout this scene, Bruce played segments of my first favorite Springsteen song, "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out"--on the piano! It was beautiful.
The theme of relationships runs throughout Springsteen on Broadway. Bruce shared with us many of his own, beginning with the often-times dark father-son relationship between him and his dad. He ended that heavy scene with "I'll take you off suicide watch now" as he segued into the much brighter story of his mom, Adele Springsteen. It is his mom who provided the light during his growing up years. She loved music, and she loved to dance, a theme that occurred several times throughout the show. Bruce's genuine love and adoration of his mom came through loud and clear as he shared personal stories about their relationship. At one point he recalled her "looking down on me like the gaze of Mary," one of several references to his Catholic upbringing. He ended this scene with "The Wish," a song he wrote for her some time back, and one that is now one of my favorite Bruce songs.
The Lord's Prayer
"Born to Run"
His Mom Again
"Dancing in the Dark"
His Mom Again
"Dancing in the Dark"
The last two scenes of Springsteen on Broadway melded together and brought everything full circle. After a somewhat heavy scene about the state of our political world (and without mentioning anyone or thing specifically) Bruce returned to the power of music, especially relating to his mom. He revealed to us that she is in her 7th year of Alzheimers, at which point I swear I gasped out loud. Whenever she's at their home, they always have music playing. "In hard times, put on your dancing shoes," he said and then played "Dancing in the Dark." On the piano. Amazing.
I felt the show was nearing the end when the tree that Bruce had talked about reappeared in the next monologue. He talked about going back to his childhood neighborhood only to find the tree was gone. He said, "My heart sank like a rock. Part of me was gone, too." He saw the Catholic church still standing majestically, though, and he became quite spiritual. "The Catholic Church," he continued. "Once they have you, they have you." I totally got that, as I sat there with my Rosary bracelet on my wrist! He began saying "The Lord's Prayer," and I found myself saying the words right along with him, making the sign of the cross when I finished. "May God bless you and your loved ones," Bruce sincerely said and then ended that scene, and the entire show, with "Born to Run," a perfect rocking guitar version.
Push play to see how close we were!
After the show, Peg and I had a hard time coming up with words to describe our experience. It was almost too personal to talk about. Even now, two months later, I struggle with words, but one thing is for sure. I am so honored to have Bruce share his memories with me in such an intimate way. I am forever changed.