Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Saturday Night in the Fields Where Sunlight Streams

We are as old as we feel. A lesson learned and relearned every time I have the opportunity to spend the evening taking in the sights and sounds of a Springsteen concert. While on each of the past several tours, beginning with the Reunion Tour in 1999-2000 I have spent multiple evenings listening to the Boss and his band mates, last evening I celebrated the end of my first full day as a parolee from Circle Seven in the Jersey Swamps taking in my first show of the tour. And what a night it was.

Margaret and I (and Rob when life permits him not to be 2000 miles away) have taken in many shows over the course of the past decade in the company of our good friends The Sisters Kizis, whose number of attendees can vary (depending upon the circumstances) from two to four. Last night it was the full quartet, led by Lynne (whose generosity of spirit may very well have its equal elsewhere but has never been surpassed by anyone else I have encountered in four and a quarter decades on the big blue marble), Suzanne a/k/a Gidg (her #2 and the organizer of all things tailgate-oriented on E Street), Laura and her 3 kids and Pam and the oldest of her three sons; Carolyn and her two boys and a new addition to our traveling circus - Chris (because a brother needs a little help in the battle of the sexes).

Our little group of fourteen spent hours tailgating pre-show, using as our home base of operations the 31' RV Lynne rented for the occasion and then, through the luck of the draw on the GA tickets, ended up in "the Pit", which meant that we stood anywhere from on the rail separating the stage from the crowd to eight feet or so off of it. If you were there last night, the adorable little moppet you witnessed dueting with Mr. Springsteen during "Waiting on a Sunny Day" was Laura's daughter, Olivia, whose performance was surpassed only by her post-concert review of it, "I was a little nervous but he helped me through it."

Bruce Springsteen is not a young man any more. Neither are his band mates. In recent years, infirmity and even mortality have come a-calling on E Street. The "Big Man" Clarence Clemons spends the majority of his time on stage (when not wailing on his sax) either perched atop a stool or seated in the plush chair that is positioned but a few feet from his stage position. And from the up close view in the pit you can see the lines that time has etched into the visages of the rest of the band - from Little Steven to Mighty Max Weinberg.

Yet, once the house lights go down and the opening notes are played, age no longer has any bearing upon the evening's festivities. One does not hear age in the vocals or the instruments. One hears only joy. And there, under the white hot spotlights, they race along at 1,000,000 miles per hour, taking all of us along for the ride, peeling away time and any sense of loss or sadness that its relentlessness has visited upon us.

After almost three hours of performing last night, Bruce led the E Streeters into "Glory Days", the evening's penultimate number. As the band launched into its opening notes, he exhorted all of us, "The Turnpike's closed. And nobody's going home!" And no one left. There was no need. For at that moment, each and every one of us, was already home.

This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin'.

All aboard......


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