by Brenda W. Clough
I heard once of a woman who, when she was in high school, was asked to the junior prom by a teenaged Bill Gates. She turned him down. Every now and then she thinks about that, especially when she gets her Visa statement. My similar moment is from college, when our Student Activities Committee was running concerts. They got in this young up-and-coming rocker named Bruce Springsteen. Tickets were free, if you had a student ID. I remember discussing going with my roommate. We decided to blow it off and do something more entertaining.
Everyone will agree that this was one of the great errors of my life, my Bill Gates prom moment. If I could do the time-travel thing this is where I would yell advice at my younger self, that and buying Apple stock. It is usually impossible to see the Boss live; tickets sell out in a heartbeat and then scalpers charge thousands of dollars. I had resigned myself to never seeing him live.
However! While there is life, there is a chance to ameliorate past mistakes. I saw Springsteen this month at the Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC. And it was great! I don’t often go to arena concerts — the last one I went to was Billy Joel in the 1980s, and before that Michael Jackson. But I concede that for pure rock & roll you need an arena, crammed to the rafters with a sell-out crowd of screaming diehard fans shrieking the lyrics. And Bruce Springsteen is it, the pure white-hot core of rock. There is no one now alive, except possibly the Rolling Stones, who is so central to the music.
He played for four hours straight, without a break and sometimes with scarcely a breath between numbers. May you and I have that kind of energy when we’re 66! And every single song was a hit, a classic. And there were many he never got to. Springsteen is famous for his live shows, and I agree — he is a fantabulous performer. One cannot imagine a better. He so visibly enjoys being on the stage, interacting with his fans, it is a joy to watch him. You can hear the music better through your earbuds; you can analyze the lyrics better by downloading them. But to see the creator himself, reveling in his creation like God on the seventh day of Creation, you need to go to the concert. It is unutterably thrilling. And I cannot believe that he can keep on doing this much longer — I know I could not. Catch him, before he retires!