Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published February 4th 2019
Bruce live on stage - Perfect
I have been a fan of Bruce Springsteen for many, many years. His songs tell stories that touch at the hearts of many people; they have certain heart that means something to listeners. His tales are those of the normal, average person. It is how he has lasted more than forty years in the industry as a successful artist.
There is something about his voice that, like Bob Dylan before him, says, "Honesty." And his lyrics are amazing.
So, after many, many albums, he decided to hit the Broadway stage. And out of that came this quite incredible album: Springsteen On Broadway. This is not just Springsteen playing a greatest hits package. This is Springsteen in the raw.
It is him, on stage, alone (except for a brief interlude where his wife joins him) with a guitar, piano, harmonica, singing his greatest hits. And more. Because he tells stories along with each one. Where the songs came from, what they mean, what they represent. The joy of this album is not hearing the songs as an acoustic, one-man show (though, don't get me wrong, that is fantastic), it is hearing the innermost thoughts of a writer who is, simply put, a genius.
This album is an autobiography as well. It is one of the most incredible tellings you can ever hear. The language is not safe for work (if you're offended by swearing, bad luck), and yet it fits. This is honesty. This is real.
It starts with 'Growin' Up', which Bruce uses to tell the tale of how he found rock and roll. The song is a background to the story. He admits the song was made up, but it speaks a universal truth. His story of getting a guitar and his first disastrous show sets the enthralling tone for the rest of the set.
The intro to 'My Hometown' is Springsteen's life as a child. In seven minutes he paints a picture of what it was like growing up where he did as part of a large extended Catholic family. And then he plays the song on piano, a simply beautiful rendition.
'My Father's House' is started with a story – a word picture – of going to get his father from the bar as a child. And then the song hits, and it follows seamlessly, sad and beautiful, with another sad spoken interlude in the middle.
Springsteen in 2012
We jump to a more joyful story, about Springsteen's mother this time. The different relationship he had with his parents is set out so starkly. This is quite the confessional! 'The Wish' continues the great renditions afterwards.
An interesting anecdote leads into a magnificent reworking of 'Thunder Road'. This is one of the best songs on the album.
Springsteen talks about starting life as a real musician, in the days before Jersey was popular. A longer anecdote follows about driving to California for a show, the first time he had driven. And that leads nicely into 'The Promised Land[I]'.
'Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out' becomes a tribute to Clarence Clemens.
Patti Scialfa joins him for the next two songs. Brief recall of when Springsteen first saw Patti, and they go into 'Tougher Than The Rest'. A brief talk about love, and 'Brilliant Disguise' follows. Beautiful. Their voices complement one another perfectly.
Talking about reconnecting with his father before Patti has her first child leads us into 'Long Time Coming'. Quite a sad, and yet hopeful, anecdote.
Nice commentary about kids today leads into 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad[/I[' and then '[I]The Rising', which is done incredibly well. I love it like this, a man and an acoustic guitar… wow.
Springsteen in 2012
He gives a little talk about having a good time and thanking his audiences, and then hits a nice acoustic reworking of 'Dancing In The Dark'. This segues straight into 'Land Of Hope And Dreams'. Nice.
A sad anecdote about going back to his home town and finding it changed – possibly not for the better – but he comes to the realisation that history is still there in us. Live with the past; make peace with your past. It actually brought a lump to my throat. He ends with The Lord's Prayer, and then…
'Born To Run'. Highlight of the album, and the perfect way to finish this off.
Wow. What a ride.
And there you have it. This is possibly an album for fans, or for those who want more than just the music. It doesn't matter – this was a truly wonderful listening experience, and I recommend this album whole-heartedly.