Friday, April 11, 2008

An Evening With the Boss

Not often, but every once in a while, I want to feel 17 again. Not the angsty, high school, I-hate-my-hair, I'm-not-sure-what-to-wear girl I was so much of the time back then. No, I want to feel limitless possibility. Wonder. Freedom. Confidence (or was it stupidity?) that had my friends and me wearing t-shirts that said "Go to Hell World, I'm a Senior." I want to feel like I'm born to run.

Now, next week, those days will be 31 years, two kids, a few (ahem) pounds, and lots of bad haircuts in my past. But occasionally, every once upon a time, I get to grab that 17 year-old inside and let her out for a ride. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" always takes me there. I dare you to watch this and not bop around in your chair.

And Monday night, I got to feel 17 for three hours all thanks to The Boss (and my husband who bought me the tickets for Christmas). It was great (and I'm still recovering). I danced and sang and cheered and raised my fist high because tramps like us were just around the corner from the light of day and we were out on the streets (oh oh oh oh oh!) in the promised land.

And much later, when I was still singing along in my head and I couldn't get to sleep because I was still soaring, I thought how Bruce and I grew up together. And how we're both writers.

He gave me the anthems I needed when I was young and figuring out how to be an adult:

"Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window
And let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night's busting open
These two lanes will take us anywhere"

Thunder Road is just about the most perfect song ever written.

And then, when I was an adult and was finding it a bit harder to navigate than I'd thought, I knew he understood:

"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse?

"God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he's sure of"

And then, we both gained a few more years, and some perspective (and found the keeper spouse the second time around):

"Tonight I'm drinkin' in the forgiveness
This life provides
The scars we carry remain but the pain slips away it seems
Oh won't you baby be in my book of dreams"

He was a voice of loss and sorrow after 9/11:

"Pictures on the nightstand, TV's on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you're missing, you're missing
You're missing when I shut out the lights
You're missing when I close my eyes
You're missing when I see the sun rise
You're missing"

And, in his title song, The Rising, he also gave us a sense of pride and hope.

And today? He's still writing the words that are on so many of our hearts:

"Who'll be the last to die for a mistake
The last to die for a mistake
Whose blood will spill, whose heart will break
Who'll be the last to die, for a mistake"

He's been a fine companion all these years--and an even finer writer. I can only strive to make my words resonate as well.

Oh, and he still looks totally hot in jeans.


Laura Bradford said...


You got to see him on Monday?!?!?!


I'm so jealous.

I will forever remember being 16-ish and standing up in the nose-bleed section in the Meadowlands for his Born in The USA tour. What I saw of him (other than a speck) was on the screen, but that stadium was on fire. And boy did we let our hair down.

And yeah, the speck looked good in his jeans then too. I *could* see that.


Lisa said...

The Boss is certainly prominent in a number of tracks to the soundtrack of this life too. I think of him in much the same way I think of Dylan -- a storyteller first and foremost. That 17 feeling was something, wasn't it? As I get older, I find myself listening more and saying less to "young people" as I reflect on how when I was very young I never thought of "old people" as being able to understand anything I was feeling. It all comes full circle eventually. Now I understand too well and know I can't tell them anything -- it's their journey. But music can definitely transport me back to many different times and Bruce does it for me too. Lucky you -- and still looking good, huh?

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Laura--Yeah, we were in California. It was great. Maybe he'll add another midwest swing to his tour. Let's hope so.

Lisa--Yes, Dylan, Bruce, a few others. For my sons it's Dave Matthews. I do love the transporting.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Springsteen was the soundtrack to my college years. And he still makes me smile and want to dance. Old stuff, new stuff. He's a poet. Yes, Lisa, like Dylan.

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Be still, my heart. BRUCE!!!! Every anthem to my life imaginable is a Springsteen song! My 10th grade boyfriend played Springsteen songs by ear and wooed me with the poetry of the words and tunes.
I'm old enough to have seen Bruce and the E Street Band in smaller venues--the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh back in the 70's, before he was playing outdoor stadiums and you could only see a speck a mile away from you on stage.
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out has to be one of my all-time favorite songs. It's just about perfect in every way.

April 30, baby. Cannot WAIT!!!!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Kristen--lucky you, you get to live on his turf!

Jenny--The first time my sister saw him he was the OPENING act! Have a blast on the 30th!

Joanne said...

Hi Judy,
I am so with you on this. Aren't concerts an art-form in themselves? It's almost like a museum, the way certain songs get preserved in an historical context to our lives. And now, how nice to align yourself and your work with an icon. Some of what I write about are the concerts I've been to, paralleled against moments in my life. You can never get enough live music, don't you think?

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hi Joanne-

Art form? Definitely. There's such a sense of community, of sharing the experience. I love that.

Carleen Brice said...

Early happy birthday to ya!!

I forgot that feeling of being a senior and the whole world belonged to you. Yeah, I'd like to have that for a few days.

Daisy said...

I'm not sure about wanting to be a senior again -- but see the Boss? Sure!!

Bev Marshall said...

The Boss holds a special place in my heart. Years ago when Butch was in the Air Force and we were living in England, we bombed Libya, and one of the pilots in our squadron was killed. There was a party scheduled and not one of us 100 wives felt like going, but we went. Everyone was standing around looking sad and this whisp of a girl, Barb Aton, dressed in bib overalls put on Bruce's Born in the USA, and holding her hands over her head in this small British living room, she danced and sang along. Soon everyone was dancing and crying and it's one of the best memories I'll have for the rest of my life. God bless Bruce!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Carleen, Thanks for the b-day wishes.

Daisy, I know, high school's a tough time to try to revisit, but Bruce makes it all worth it.

Bev, Oh my, your story gave me shivers. What an amazing moment that must have been.

katie walsh said...

Judy, is your husband threatened by your obvious love for the boss? although i will agree with you, "thunder road" is perfection. i've found that reading your blog is not only enjoyable, but an excellent source of procrastination (everyone can always use more of that). i look forward to more info about your latest books!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hey Katie-

How are you? Glad I can give you an excuse to waste your time by reading my writing!

And no, John's not threatened--he knows the Bruce love is incurable (and certainly unrequited!).

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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