The 2012 World Tour of “The Boss” is called The Wrecking Ball Tour. Of course, by the “Boss”, I mean none other than Bruce Springsteen, perhaps America’s last great rock and roll star, someone who can at least, be spoken of in the same sentence or paragraph as Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. I last saw a live Springsteen concert in the Mile High City of Denver, back in the 1980s. I was also in London a few years ago when he played at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival. I could hear the beat and the cheers coming from old Hyde Park.
The current members of the band are: The Boss, Steve Van Zandt, Patti Scialfa, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, and Nils Lofgren. In Memoriam members are the great sax man, Clarence Clemons, and Danny Federici. Additional musicians are Suzi Tyrell, and Charles Giordano. Wrecking Ball refers to the Boss’ 17th album, featuring eleven new Springsteen songs.
Bruce Springsteen was born on September, 23, 1949 in Freehold, New Jersey. He played in local bars while he began assembling the E Street Band. His album “Born to Run” symbolically linked arena rock with his tales of struggle of the working class in America. His father had a hard time holding down a job. His mother was a secretary in a local insurance office. He strongly feels his parents’ experience helped forge his own. Basically, it told him what was at stake when you are born in the U.S.A.
His first love affair with music was seeing Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. His mother took out a loan to buy a $60 Kent guitar for his 16th birthday. He was frequently in trouble at his Catholic school. He even skipped his own high school graduation. In 1967, he was drafted for service in the Vietnam War. He was disqualified he says for his weird behavior and a concussion from a previous motorcycle accident.
By the late 60s, he was spending most of his time at Asbury Park on the Jersey shore. He played with several different bands, and began to get noticed with his gravelly baritone voice. Here, he met the future members of the E Street Band. The nickname, “The Boss” came from his habit of collecting money during the shows, and distributing it evenly among the band members.
Columbia released his first studio album in 1972, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” which garnered acclaim, when people compared him to Bob Dylan. Even his second album was highly acclaimed, but did not sell any better than the first. Finally, the third album, “Born to Run” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and placed him on the threshold of fame. The album drew heavily upon his Jersey roots, with soaring guitars, larger-than-life characters, urban romance, and his rebellious spirit.
The fourth album in 1978 was “Darkness On the Edge of Town”, was somber, with lost love, depression, and existential suffering. With success, he feared that he was going to change. To promote the album, they went on a national tour, where they became famous for marathon shows of 3 to 4 hours. During this period, The Boss became famous for his integrity and pride as a performer, and for his perfectionism in the recording studio. In fact, that is how he got his nickname.
Superstardom came in 1984 with “Born in the U.S.A.” in 1984, with seven singles hitting the Billboard charts, including two of my favorites, “Dancing in the Dark” and “Glory Days.” The album became a best seller, and spawned the tour that I saw in Denver on a freezing rain and ice stormed night. He met and married actress Julianne Phillips in 1985. After a separation and divorce, he married Patti Scialfa in 1991, and now have three children.
In 1989, he dissolved the E Street Band, and moved to California. The next two albums came from a much happier place. But his songs seemed to lack emotional intensity. But he came back strongly with an
Oscar-winning song, “The Streets of Philadelphia” for the movie, Philadelphia. Finally, in 1999, he reunited with E Street and went on tour to promote their “Greatest Hits” album. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 as well. His music is used in films, like Jerry Maguire, and Philadelphia, among many others. He was won 21 Grammies. The Boss and E Street released “The Rising” in 2002, much of it dealing with the 9/11 attacks on America. A few more albums, including the more traditional rock album, “Magic” in 2007 were inspired by the band and the death of long time band mate and friend, Danny Federici.
Like many of us, he joined the effort to elect Barrack Obama as President. “The Rising” was played at Obama’s victory party. Later, he opened the show at Obama’s Inaugural celebration. In 2009, he was honored by the Kennedy Center, where President Obama called him, “The Boss”.
This will be an evening with very little sitting, and certainly few if any quiet times. This is “The Boss” at his best, minus sax man Clemons. I cannot wait. This should be the highlight of my 2012 music concerts. Kudos to my music wife, Sian. You are the best music fan in the world! This concert, in fact, maybe my musical highlight of the decade or at least, the new millennium. I am certain to feel at least thirty years younger. He does that to people. He makes us forget, yet he pleads for us to remember. He is “The Boss.”