Since I first heard him sing at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD, I’ve been addicted to the music–and shows–of Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. I don’t think I’ve missed a show in the DC area since first seeing him on the Darkness tour in 1978 at the Capital Centre in Landover, and a few years later, for the original River tour, 1980, Cap Centre, while I was home from college. I’ve seen him at FedEx field, and the MCI Center, now Verizon, and at RFK for Born in the USA. I made it to Vote For Change shows, and the show at Nats Stadium. The last time I saw him, my father, sister and I drove to Raleigh, NC, to catch him at an arena near Durham.
It also happens that I have been writing about him in The Washington Post since 1992, when my first letter to the editor appeared in that paper.
That same year–in fact, just a few months later, I wrote another letter, this one bemoaning some writer’s statement and the genius of Bob Dylan would far outlast that of Bruce Springsteen. I begged to differ (and, in the process, really irritated my 23-year old brother, but hey, he didn’t know!).
I have written a few times about how hard it has become for an ordinary person with an ordinary computer to buy tickets. Once, it was about the 2007 Magic tour, and the Post ran my letter, bemoaning the seats members of Congress gobbled up and sold as fundraisers.
And the last time I couldn’t buy tickets (The 2010 Wrecking Ball tour) I wrote about it for the Post’s Local Opinions, suggesting that the bots and StubHubs of the world had taken over the joy of live rock shows. Oddly enough, this story became the basis for an article about an act–the BOSS Act–that was under consideration as a way to stop the bots. In 2012, something similar happened, and I appeared as a guest on the radio program, Culture Shocks with Barry Lynn to talk about the issue of being able to get concert tickets, and how the bots keep winning.
I try to think of why I love the man and the music so much, and can guess at many elements–my own 1970s adolescence and the recession, where we all seemed stuck forever in a moment of time. The voice and the music, full of muted sexuality and longing and love. I wrote about that show for a blog called The Light in Darkness. Even now, 46 years later (how did that happen?), I am transformed when I watch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform.
The truth is that a Springsteen show is about as close as I get to church anymore, standing in a packed arena, fists pumping and singing along with Bruce and the crowd. I am often there with my sister and my father, and I am always happy when the 73-year old jumps to his feet and belts out “Born to Run” with the rest of us, house lights up, as if he, too, were 18 again. In fact, at 73, he is a cancer survivor, and I always hope to get in one more show with my Dad and my sister. Nothing can compare to that joy.
Anyone up for a trade? I can’t afford the $600 the scalpers are after, but I’ll pay face value, or trade you–I can draw a little work of art, featuring whatever it is YOU love most about Bruce Springsteen.
The time Springsteen goes on tour, how about skipping Ticketmaster altogether? I, for one, would be quite happy to camp out in the Verizon parking garage and wait for tickets to go on sale in person for my city’s shows. That, at least, would seem fair–not only to fans, but to the artists, who are also ripped-off by scalpers.
At 53, I’m quite adept at dancing in the dark, but man, living in the future ain’t what it used to be.
Key words: buying tickets for Springsteen, how to beat Stub Hub, camping out for tickets, child of the 1970s recession