I’ve got a piece on Slate today arguing that the element that makes Springsteen on Broadway—which I saw on February 28, the night after I saw Hello, Dolly!—worth the difficulty and expense of getting tickets is quiet. You can read that here, and it is my fond hope that you shall.
And in the spirit of Bruce Springsteen having written more worthy songs for Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River and Born in the U.S.A. than he could possibly use at the time, but contrary to the spirit of him waiting 15-30 years before releasing all those unused songs, which I as a diehard am legally required to claim were better than the ones he put on the albums which by the way is true in many cases… here’s a deleted scene from that piece, wherein I expand upon my 20-show record as a Bruce Springsteen fan:
As someone whose Bruce fandom had bloomed improbably in the mid-90s, when—an Academy Award for Best Original Song notwithstanding—his stock was as low as it’s been in my lifetime, I’d never imagined I would have so many chances to see him. But he called the E Street Band back together in 1999 and kept them together, even once its founding members started dying. (Organist Danny Federici succumbed to cancer in 2008; saxophonist Clarence “Big Man” Clemons died from complications following a stroke in 2011. Both men had been in Springsteen’s band since 1972. )
I watched the once and future Boss go from a stern and mission-focused bandleader to an amiable goofball who regularly granted unlikely song requests—”Royals” by Lorde, a singer-songwriter younger than his album The Ghost of Tom Joad, and one time, “Hava Nagila.” I touched the small of his 60-year-old back as he crowd-surfed over my friends Brian and Vanessa and me at a 2009 gig in Baltimore. I saw him play in a freezing downpour at the Olympiastadion in Munich (opening with a cover of John Fogerty’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain”), marveling at how lustily tens of thousands of waterlogged Germans sang along to every word of every song on Born in the USA (performed in its entirety at that show). I’d watched him play the morbid song “Wreck on the Highway” with an inexplicable but profound foreboding in my chest the night before Prince died.
But then Springsteen on Broadway was announced. A show that would lean at least as heavily on stories as on songs. I knew I had to go.
I’d scored tickets when the second extension had been announced, splurging on a pair of orchestra seats in Row K for… a few bucks less than my monthly mortgage payment. I’d never had to agonize over the value proposition of a Springsteen ticket before. I’d never regretted buying one, not even the time I gave a scalper $240—a sizable percentage of my net worth at the time—in the parking lot of Philadelphia’s First Union Center for a nosebleed seat from which I could touch the ceiling. This could be the last E Street Band tour, I’d told myself as I handed over a wad of a dozen $20 bills. Spoiler alert: That was not the last E Street Band tour. Nor was the 2002-3 The Rising Tour, the 2004 Vote For Change Tour, the 2007-8 Magic Tour, the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour, the 2012-3 Wrecking Ball Tour, or the 2014 High Hopes Tour.