Caught the Bruce Springsteen concert in Milwaukee Monday night. Now granted, as a fairly rabid fan who’s lost count of how many Bruce concerts I’ve attended, I will admit that I lack a certain objectivity on this particular subject, but even so this was one of the really, really good ones. Good lord, even as he is pushing sixty, the man is performing with a passion and intensity that is truly inspirational.
There was much to love about this concert – he busted out some rarities and even brought out legendary jazz bassist Richard Davis for a gorgeous “Meeting Across the River.” (If you are a fan too, check out the concert review and setlist here on Backstreets.com.) Though I always love the old Bruce standards, what I really reached me was the material from his latest album, “Magic” – a collection of great, danceable tunes that soberly address the perils of living in America during the Iraq War era.
At the concert, he introduced the title song thus, “Here’s to the end of eight years of bad magic tricks:”
I got a shiny saw blade
All I need’s a volunteer
I’ll cut you in half
While you’re smilin’ ear to ear
And the freedom that you sought
Driftin’ like a ghost amongst the trees
This is what will be, This is what will be
You don’t have to be a Bruce expert to observe that he’s has grown more courageous in his willingness to address critical political issues more directly through his music in recent years. Some of his songs have an even deeper resonance now than when they were first written. It’s remarkable, for instance, to hear the prophetic lyric of “Lonesome Day,” written in the wake of 9/11 and almost a year before the US invasion of Iraq:
Better ask questions before you shoot
Deceit and betrayal’s bitter fruit
It’s hard to swallow, come time to pay
That taste on your tongue don’t easily slip away
My personal favorite from the new album – and one that he and the band played with even greater intensity in concert than on the record – is “Long Walk Home.” This one definitely gets my vote for our new national anthem:
My father said “Son, we’re lucky in this town,
It’s a beautiful place to be born.
It just wraps its arms around you,
Nobody crowds you and nobody goes it alone”
“Your flag flyin’ over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone.
Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t”
It’s gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
As I was jumping around in an arena full of delirious middle aged fans, I realized how important Springsteen’s music has been to me over the years. His songs kept me sane during High School in the 70’s and wouldn’t you know it, they continue to do the same for me during the turbulent Bush years…
(Click above for a great clip of Bruce and Davis’ duet from the concert.)