Tuesday, September 22, 2009

May Mary's Dress Long Wave.....

As I was running this morning - making my 2.8 mile jaunt through the neighborhood - contemplating life, such as the fact that it looks more and more like a Yankee team that could win 100 games in the regular season is going to open the post-season in Anaheim as the wild-card entry, and the fact that my final 1/2 mile this morning was (according to the trusty TIMEX runner's watch Margaret bought me last year) so slow that while I have no recollection of having run it on my hands, if video showing that I did pops up on YouTube I shall not deny it - I remembered that tomorrow is Bruce Springsteen's 60th birthday.

I have been an enormous fan of Springsteen's music for the overwhelming majority of my life. An unfair advantage that one has as the caboose in a family of six siblings is the exposure you receive at an extraordinarily early age to a variety of things courtesy of your older brothers/sisters. Bill is the oldest of the six Kenny sibs and has a love and knowledge of music that - in my life experience - is unmatched. From time to time, he sends me compact discs of artists whose work he enjoys and who he thinks I might enjoy. On occasion, it is music from someone I know. More often than not, it is music from an artist whose name - and usually whose work - is wholly unfamiliar to me.

Springsteen has long been a staple of Bill's musical catalog. Thus, when I was but a wee lad, I enjoyed early exposure to Springsteen's music. I will be 43 in February (shop now - avoid the rush!) and his music has been the centerpiece of my own mental jukebox for more than thirty years. Among the many debts I owe my big brother, this ranks towards the top of the list.

Springsteen and the E Street Band (sorry - I cannot refer to them by the Jon Landau-created tag line "legendary" E Street Band - not because they are not exceptional but because it has a forced, mandatory feel akin to Joe DiMaggio not agreeing to make an appearance at a Major League baseball game unless he was introduced as "the greatest living ballplayer") are wrapping up the final leg of the Working on A Dream tour. They have been touring non-stop both throughout North America and Europe since February, ostensibly in support of their latest record (just for fun, click onto www.backstreets.com and check out the "Setlist" pages to see how many tracks from this CD ever get played in concert). Actually they have been on tour almost non-stop since the fall of 2008 when they barnstormed around North America and Europe in support of Magic.

The boys in the band (and the distaff side as well) are not as young as they used to be. On stage, other than when he is playing the saxophone Clarence "Big Man" Clemons sits in an enormous, over sized (and very comfy looking) chair. One wonders upon seeing it whether Raymour and Flanagan offered Springsteen's management team any $$$ for the chance to be a sponsor of this tour in exchange for Clarence's wonderful product placement. Springsteen will be sixty tomorrow and there are several of his mates - including Clarence - who are older than he is. Perhaps therefore it came as no surprise when Billboard reported several days ago that at tour's end (November 22 in Buffalo) the band shall be taking a hiatus. "We are gonna take, I don't know how long -- a year, year and a half, two years," guitarist Steven Van Zandt said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "Up to now we've been working a lot, and it's great."

Thus, the possibility exists that when the band shuffles off of the stage in Buffalo sixty days from now they might never be together again - at least as presently constructed. The news made me flash back not only to when I first started listening to their records (both on vinyl and cassette) but the first time I was lucky enough to score tickets to see them in concert. Coincidentally that was twenty-four years ago tomorrow - on Springsteen's 36th birthday - when they played one of the final shows of the Born in the USA tour in Denver Colorado. During that show a big birthday cake got wheeled out on stage and Bruce pleaded with Clarence for help in blowing out all of the candles because, he lamented, he was "too old" to do it on his own. He was not of course. And he still is not.

I will enjoy the shows that I am going to see within the next several weeks at Giants Stadium and will try not to keep one eye on the future relative to this musician and his supporting cast and their music that I love so much. Often during a concert I will stand or sit with my eyes closed and just listen to the music. And in my mind's eye, neither Springsteen, the E Streeters nor me has any gray in our hair or paunch in our midsection. We are young and ready to uncoil, to make our mark upon the world. And that image, both of them and of me, never fails to make me smile.

-AK

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