Monday, May 01, 2006


All-Bruce Springsteen post

I wasn't the biggest Bruce fan before yesterday. I'd heard some of his tunes, and I have to friends that are absolute fanatics, so I've heard my share. So, I was curious to check out his set, but was also open to checking out the Meters and skipping the show entirely. I'm extremely glad that I didn't.

Bruce's set was magical. Sometimes, music transcends the reality that is around it, and provides a wonderfully uniting and uplifting experience, and that's what we got on Sunday afternoon. His set of his new tracks with Seeger covers sounded just wonderful through the mix and sound system that the fest put in place, which certainly contributed to the experience. Springsteen's comments about the songs helped to paint the picture for the fans, and his re-writes of some lyrics to reflect the situation in New Orleans was a fitting tribute. His comments about "President Bystander" and many others along those lines had the crowds cheering, and many more had the crowd moved to tears.

His set opened with O Mary Don't You Weep, which set the spiritual scene for the set. His cover of Jacob's Ladder was phenomenal, and then performed a re-worked version of How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live with New Orleans lyrics (you can hear a rehearsal recording of it here). My Oklahoma Home, originally about the dust bowl, was embraced by the crowd as a spontaneous singalong with the crowd echoing the chorus, "Blowed away, Blowed away, My Oklahoma home has Blowed Away."

By far, the most powerful and moving experience was Springsteen performing his track City of Ruins. The song was originally written for his hometown of Asbury Park, then used eloquently after 9-11. It was incredible to hear it in New Orleans, thinking of my fair city. A good friend of mine posted the lyrics to this blog sometime after the storm, and it couldn't be more appropriate. The crowd was reverent and silent as we listened to the tale about his city with boarded up windows and empty streets, and the repeating call for the city to rise up that echoes through the chorus. At the end of the song, he enters into a prayer, quoted below:

Now with these hands,With these hands,
With these hands, I pray Lord
With these hands, With these hands,
I pray for the strength, Lord
With these hands, With these hands,
I pray for the faith, Lord
We pray for your love, Lord
We pray for the lost, Lord
We pray for this world, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord

To which the crowd all raised their hands, to sway and pray for New Orleans. I still get teary thinking about it.

He closed the show with a few more upbeat tunes, then played a final encore of When the Saints Go Marching In, which was beautifully subdued. It was much more in the vein of a hymn as it was originally written, and truthfully much more like the city of New Orleans right now. Hopeful, Prayerful, Joyous, but not really ready to celebrate as we once did just a few months ago.

Anyhow, that's my wrap-up of the show. He's all over the news today about his JazzFest performance, and his comments.

New York Times does a pretty good job of giving you a fest overview in the beginning of their article

CNN gives a similar recap, with some video thrown in there for good measure

ESPN also makes mention of it, with the Boss calling and offering to have new #1 pick Reggie Bush of the Saints to make a cameo on stage.

I also had links from Forbes, BBC, Reuters, but there was no new ground in any of those.

once you see Bruce live, there's no turning back.
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