GAMBLE: The Boss makes growing up look easy

I’m not much of a crier. Something has to be pretty profound to make my eyes even tear up. But as I stood on the floor and listened to Bruce Springsteen start “Thunder Road” last Sunday night, the floodgates completely opened. I could not get it together.

Maybe I should start from the beginning.

I’ve been having a hard time with this whole senior year thing. In fact, all my friends have. Discussing post-grad plans feels a little like planning funeral arrangements, especially with an economic recession in the mix. We don’t want to leave; we don’t want to get old.

So my friends and I shelled out the big bucks for floor tickets to see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in St. Louis. We wanted to commemorate our last fall break, or maybe just distract ourselves from the fact that it was actually our last. Mostly, though, we just plain love The Boss.

A couple weeks prior to the show, the band announced they’d play the album “Born to Run” in its entirety. We were thrilled. We planned to play hooky on Monday, skipping a class or two, and took our road trip down Route 66 on Friday. On Sunday, we stood in line outside the venue and waited for hours to get as close to the stage as we could.

When it was time to play “Thunder Road,” Bruce gave us a talk. He said playing the album from start to finish was something nice the band wanted to do for the fans. It’s an important one to him. When “Born to Run” came out in 1975, the band had already released two records that sold poorly. This was its last shot. Bruce said all his cards rested on this album.

Things worked out.

After his chat, he got to playing. And with the opening sounds of his harmonica, I was completely overcome with emotion. I’ve never cried at a concert before. But being surrounded by good college friends while listening to Bruce recall his shaky start did it. Like I said, it takes something pretty profound.

He played with the same friends he’s been making music with since 1972. He launched into one hit after another, pulled little kids on stage, danced with ecstatic women, surfed the crowd, and read every handmade poster he could.

His smile looked like it could barely fit on his face. He was physically unable to put down his guitar and played for three hours without a break, even after turning 60 a few weeks ago.

Here was a man who loves his job. Realizing that The Boss, too, was once a 20-something kid trying to catch a lucky break is more reassuring than any therapy session or career counseling appointment. He’s living proof that you can grow up, make some dough and still do what you love with people you genuinely enjoy. It can and does happen.

The Boss squashed my senior-year fears. He sent them flying with the opening of “Thunder Road” and any lingering hesitations were definitely erased by the time the whole house sang the chorus of “Born to Run.”

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band will rock Milwaukee Nov. 15. I’ll be there. You should be there, too. He might just help wave your big kid fears goodbye.

  • Mike

    I just wanted to say that I think this is an awesome story. I too am in college (although I’m only a freshman) and will be flying to see them play at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 7 & 8. Every time I hear “Thunder Road” live, I get about the same type of reaction. This is a great story about how Bruce’s music touches his fans so well and brings people up if they’re unhappy. I’ve been trying to tell my friends this for years, but the way you describe it here is perfect. Have fun at Milwaukee!

  • http://www.myspace.com/michaelmelicia michael melicia

    The ’75 Born to Run tour transformed an entire generation. Glad to see the magic continue, especially in light of the current state of affairs in the world we inherited, and will unfortunately pass on to you and yours.