I've only had the opportunity to see the E Street Band once. My seats were so high in the place that I was looking for those little dangling oxygen masks they have on airplanes. It didn't matter. Everyone sang. Everyone. I've never been to a concert where the arena was so full of love. Love for the music, love for the musician.
I know I've talked before about music and how every bit of music I love soundtracks some part of my life. I can listen to an album and tell you exactly where I lived when I first heard it, how old I was, whether I had a Walkman or a simple tape recorder or a CD player, but when it comes to Bruce Springsteen, it goes a little deeper. I can tell you exactly where I was in 1982 when I finally got my own copy of The River (so I no longer had to sneak my sister's double album into my room when she wasn't home to play on my portable record player), I can tell you that I was in the car driving past the place where I took guitar lessons when I was pulling the shrink wrap off the cassette. And I can tell you that I played it until it broke, to be replaced later by a CD. Born in the USA was the very first CD I ever owned. I'd stay up late to tape interviews and rare B Sides, wait for broadcasts of janky, informal concerts at the Stone Pony. I even recorded the station ID Bruce did for Philadelphia's WMMR. I learned 85 of Bruce's songs.
Its frustrating to try and explain how much this music means to me. I'd lay on my bed with headphones on, listening and pulling it all apart; the gorgeous piano. The story that was being told. I got lost in the pictures being painted. And like a gold thread running through it all, that saxophone. It could sashay loud and sassy through a fun song or wail, disconsolate, through a sad one. I loved the songs and I loved that the band seemed like a family. A family that invited us, the fans, to celebrate, to laugh, even to cry with them. Which is what I feel like doing today.
Thank you, Mr. Clemons, for being part of the music that made my childhood. I will miss you.