October 29, 1999
Mr. Springstone


There was an interesting discussion on the message boards, earlier this week, when someone posted the question, Would you prefer to be blind or deaf? And why?

I am what is known in the parlance of the message boards as a "lurker" ... meaning that I am more likely to read over David's shoulder than to post anything myself. But I came -->this close<-- to responding to this one. It's a question I've puzzled over myself occasionally, for one thing. I was married for sixteen years to someone who is profoundly hearing-impaired, for another thing, so it's actually a situation ticketsticketsticketsticketsthat I've had provocation to think about.

Most of the people on the boards chose deafness, citing the fact that you can maintain a more independent and self-sufficent lifestyle as a deaf person than you could as a blind person. That's probably true. David said pretty much the same thing, when I asked him.

The thing is ... I know what my answer would be, with absolutely zero hesitation: I would choose blindness over deafness in a heartbeat.


Because the thought of never being able to hear music again ... for me, at least ... is too unbearably awful to contemplate. 

Especially after an experience like the one I had last night.

Last July, my very best pal on the planet (and possibly the world's most devoted Mr. Springstone fan), Edmund Kaz,wrote a review of the Springsteen concert he attended at the Continental Arena in New Jersey. Not only is it an example of some of the finest writing Mr. Kaz has ever produced  --  and that's saying a LOT  --  it is also a more eloquent, evocative word-picture of the show, which apparently was a mirror-image of the show we saw here in Oakland last night. than I could EVER hope to create.

I'm reprinting it here without any permission whatsoever. 

"Dear Mr. Springsteen:

You're forgiven. 

Remember all those years you spent with those *other* bands? It never happened, as far as I'm concerned. Welcome back, E Street Band!

Long gone is the buff, bandana-sporting 80's icon, now replaced by a man comfortably residing in middle-age (looking a lot like your cool uncle), and not seeking to make a Big Statement. Last Tuesday was simply a celebration of the music.

At times it was a pagan ritual, at others a tent revival meeting, with Springsteen prowling the lip of the stage, preaching, shouting and testifying as if he was auditioning for Reverend Ike. If someone had tossed him a Bible, I think he would have thumped it.

During 'Tenth Avenue Freezeout' Springsteen took the opportunity to swivel his 49 year old hips. As the crowd roared its approval, he roared back 'I have the ghost of TOM JONES inside of me!' And the full-band treatment of 'Ghost of Tom Joad' was a revelation: the E-Streeters brilliantly complemented the words of that Guthrieesque tale of despair and hope. Arguably, the tunes Springsteen has chosen NOT to perform on this tour (so far, at least) aren't missed. 'Born in the USA' had its place in time, but does not seem to fit into the current mix. And personally, I'm very happy that 'Dancing in the Dark' has been safely stashed away with the Members Only jackets and the 'Baby On Board' signs.

Prodigal lead guitarist Steve 'Ba Da Bing' Van Zandt is the only guy who can wear purple in 1999 and still get away with it. Outstanding was his mandolin work on the show's closer, 'Land of Hope and Dreams.' Nils Lofgren -- the most overqualified sideman in rock history -- is capable of subtle pedal steel guitar shadings ('Mansion on the Hill') and arena-shaking pyrotechnics ('Light of Day'). Honorable mention should be made of bassist and charter member Garry Tallent, who sometimes can get lost in the shuffle amidst all the flash ...

Springsteen is using his voice in a lot of new and interesting ways, exploring his upper and lower registers. Did I actually hear a yodel during 'Mansion on the Hill?' I did! ... A rockabilly version of 'Working on the Highway' came complete with The Boss swinging an acoustic guitar and doing his best Elvis moves. [Note to those who care about these things: My seat was directly behind the stage. Nobody seemed to mind, especially the females in attendance. As my friend Doreen pointed out, the '99 Bruce Butt compares very favorably with the '84 model.]

Music trends may come and go faster than you can say 'Britney Spears,' but on Tuesday night, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band reminded us once and for all who the original Backstreet Boys are."


There isn't a whole lot I can add here, frankly ... except for the fact that I only checked my watch once during the entire three hour concert ...

... that I WEPT COPIOUSLY during "If I Should Fall Behind," LAUGHED OUT LOUD when Mr. Springstone layed down in the middle of the stage and then pulled himself up by the microphone, DAMN NEAR WET MY PANTS when Mr. S. jumped on top of the piano and whipped off his sweaty shirt ...

... and felt ACUTE DISAPPOINTMENT when the third and final encore was over and the house lights came up. In fact, I felt a lot the same way I felt last summer, after we got off the rollercoaster in Santa Cruz: as though I'd been dragged onto the ride against my will, just to make someone happy ... and then afterwards, stunned and exhilarated, stood there asking "How come you didn't TELL me it was gonna be this much fun?"

Here is the *set list* from the concert, for those of you who keep track of stuff like that ...

  • Adam Raised a Cain *
  • Prove It All Night
  • Two Hearts *
  • Promised Land
  • Atlantic City
  • Mansion on the Hill
  • Independence Day
  • Youngstown * * * *
  • Murder Incorporated
  • Badlands
  • Out in the Street
  • Tenth Avenue Freezeout
  • Working on the Highway
  • Ghost of Tom Joad
  • Sinaloa Cowboys
  • Backstreets
  • Light of Day *
  • Hungry Heart [with Southside Johnny] *
  • Ramrod
  • Born to Run
  • Thunder Road
  • If I Should Fall Behind ****
  • Land of Hope and Dreams
  • Blinded by the Light
* indicates major wetting-my-pants moment


self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: i'm writing this during a four-minute *lull in the festivities* on friday, here at the totem pole company ... i'll post it when i get home from work tonight. [IF i manage to stay awake long enough, that is. if you're seeing this for the first time on saturday, then you'll know i didn't make it. if you don't seen this until sunday, it means i fell asleep on the bus and i'm on my way to milpitas.] we got home from the concert shortly after midnight, and then of course we were too keyed-up to go right to sleep so we layed/laid in bed and talked about the show for another hour. today i am a zombie ... fueled by caffeine, candy corn, and the promise of a slow and easy weekend.

self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER: it was HAZY inside the oakland coliseum last night, man.

special *howdy* to: the annoying shlub in the red sweatpants who sat directly in front of us. can you say "butt crackage?"

sixteen years ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
what was the last concert YOU went to see?
if it was the grassroots, i don't wanna hear about it.

amazingly profound thought of the day:  "Now he's playing WESTERN music." ~ Noisy Stoned Guy sitting behind us, during intro to "Sinaloa Cowboys" ~