I went to see springsteen on Saturday night.
1. The only song he played off of "Nebraska" (my favorite album) was "Johnny 99." But it did give rise to one of the great ironies of the night. Johnny 99 is about a man in new jersey who falls into dire economic straights and just loses it. Three lines from the closing stanza go,
"The bank was holdin my mortgage and they were gonna take my house away/
Now I aint sayin that makes me an innocent man/
But it was more `n all this that put that gun in my hand"
One of the headline sponsors of the concert is Citigroup.
2. Bruce takes his roll of "bard of American music" with lots of self-conscious seriousness. He played the 19th century American folksong by Stephen Foster, "hard times" as well as a medley of '50s numbers including "devil with a blue dress/good golly miss molly."
3. Middle-aged people freaking love "Rosalita." It always struck me as sortof sprawling and unfocused--Like "I've seen all good people" without the chess metaphor. but it blew the club up.
4. Bruce is old. there, I said it. he's old. He rocks hard up there, but I kept worrying he was going to have a heart attack. He was clearly gassed after long up-tempo numbers--gasping, remarking on the heat, saying "oh god" and trying to laugh it off. It made me uncomfortable. I had a similar feeling seeing Toots and the Maytals. It was like watching your father/grandfather struggle to carry a heavy box. You feel intensely guilty that they are straining and want to rush in to do it for him, because you are better equipped to do it physically. With Toots, The racial and geographic aspects made his middle-aged exhaustion feel vaguely colonial. With Bruce, I just wanted to tell him to take it easy or he would throw his back out.