(not posted on youtube yet, so I couldn’t embed it. I am linking the Daily Show clips.)

Bruce Springsteen-Working on a Dream
The Daily Show

‘The Boss’ cruised The Daily Show and Jon Stewart got to be face-to-face with his hero last night.
A special night for both of them.
During the closing moments of the interview, Jon told Bruce that he holds him in even higher regard than Bruce knew.

Bruce’s musical performance is extra-special, coming right after Jon had the chance to tell Bruce how he has affected him, how his music and his influence as a human being helped Jon become who he is today. I could say the same things and I will in the following paragraphs, but Jon said it better. Cuz he’s Jon. He does that.

I know exactly how he feels. There are reasons why Bruce is held close by many of us. Each of us has our own Bruce stories. I love hearing them. I wouldn’t be the same person without Bruce, either. He is someone that sees pain, sees joy, sees life as it is in that moment. He makes me think about and feel things and face things I would have otherwise avoided. Makes me confront realities of this world that I would rather not know about. He’s helped me keep my conscience clean.

My first bond with Bruce was in high school.
My best friend gave me ‘Born to Run’ for my birthday, our family had just moved to another city 35 miles away. That album gave me a new way to find new footing. Then after that, my first after-high-school boyfriend was a drummer, he had reel-to-reel live tapes of Bruce early in his career from bar sets. We listened to them for hours. He was learning the drummer’s technique, I was listening to the music that hit me in the chest and painted pictures of places and feelings I hadn’t seen and felt yet.

Over the years, it’s become harder to pick a favorite song. Choose one, that hit me hard the first time I heard it and still does it again and again. I know which one. I was young, I was naive, I was learning in leaps and bounds. I am now older, I am in many ways still naive, I am still learning in leaps and bounds.

Jungleland
When I heard this it was a movie on my turntable, an entire encyclopedia in one song. My fascination with it has never left me. It was akin to the first time I looked through a microscope, the first time I played with prisms and the first time I saw sunlight underwater, all rolled into one. My societal outlook and my place in it was just forming, I had just finished reading ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ series. It made me feel and understand further what empathy felt like. In Jungleland, the human despair and triumph in the wail at the end still sends blood coursing faster through my body, the kind that wants to run and help the person feeling that pain.

The music, the collaboration of the musicians and the lyrics are as perfect as it gets. Art with a capital ‘A’.
It contains my favorite lines of poetry ever written-throughout, but especially a line at the end-containing more about how people are than I have learned since the first time I heard it. The poets line. I still have that original gasp when I hear yet another concept in this song, condensed into a few words or a line that I hadn’t pictured yet, or an emotion emphasized with a note or a pause that I hadn’t heard yet. Mind-blowing that something can continue to do that after more than 30 years.

Jungleland

The rangers had a homecoming in Harlem late last night
And the Magic Rat drove his sleek machine over the Jersey state line
Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
The Rat pulls into town rolls up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance and disappear down Flamingo Lane

Well the Maximum Lawman run down Flamingo chasing the Rat and the barefoot girl
And the kids round here look just like shadows always quiet, holding hands
From the churches to the jails tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand down in Jungleland

The midnight gang’s assembled and picked a rendezvous for the night
They’ll meet ‘neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light
Man there’s an opera out on the Turnpike
There’s a ballet being fought out in the alley
Until the local cops, Cherry Tops, rips this holy night
The street’s alive as secret debts are paid
Contacts made, they vanished unseen
Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades hustling for the record machine
The hungry and the hunted explode into rock’n’roll bands
That face off against each other out in the street down in Jungleland

In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage
Inside the backstreet girls are dancing to the records that the D.J. plays
Lonely-hearted lovers struggle in dark corners
Desperate as the night moves on, just a look and a whisper, and they’re gone

Beneath the city two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender in a bedroom locked
In whispers of soft refusal and then surrender in the tunnels uptown
The Rat’s own dream guns him down as shots echo down them hallways in the night
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light

Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz
Between flesh and what’s fantasy and the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be

And in the quick of the night they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand but they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland

Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

I was thinking how much Bruce’s music has helped me define my life, make sense of things in life that don’t and aren’t meant to make sense and he lends a pen to validating the ones that do. Ohhhhh, I can’t count how many things he’s gotten me through. All kinds of times. His music is woven into me, there with me-celebrating the good and leading me through the ugly.

Through when I was young, working outside for the phone company. So many days when I got home the first thing I did was put on this and it blew the stink off.

Screamin’ down the highway, hair flyin’.

The first time I did my own dishes after my 3rd back surgery, still in a brace, ‘Bruce’ helped me completely clean up the kitchen.

Countless hours with friends.

For months after my brother’s funeral, he helped.

Redecorating with my best friend at our color-blind friend’s house in Florida-rockin’ out.

Thousands of moments in my life.

Solemn moments.

Feelin’ free moments.

With me during great joy and gut-wrenching grief.

For over 30 years, as long as some of my best friendships have lasted, he opens up wounds that need to bleed and helps heal me when no comfort would make it better. And he makes me smile my best smile. Feel bonded with the world when I hear a new song and realize ‘I still feel that way too, Bruce’. It’s a self-check in a way, that I’m still on the right train.

The Daily Show interview made me proud of both of them, two fine men, the beauty of it. But when Bruce started playing, the emotion and perfection in what he was saying turned it into something else-the full circle of it hit me and it made me cry for all of the right reasons. Bruce’s demeanor throughout his life tells us who he is-a contemplative artist living in and among us, doing what a gifted artist does.

The man Heals.

He heals because he believes in healing. That it is just something you do.
No matter the outrage, no matter the setback, no matter the loss, you can heal just about anything by facing it and come out of it with even more good things to offer. And you can celebrate life even when the worst is going on around you. That you can accept and enjoy life without being complacent. Everybody has sorrow, everybody has joy. That you love with everything that you’ve got, live with everything you’ve got. That you never give up trying.

He taught me that.
And more.

Backstreets-1984
Live in Toronto 10:47

blame it on the lies that killed us
Blame it on the truth that ran us down

(If you let the youtube continue to play it goes into City of Ruin.)
Lyrics

(Here is a clip from 2007 of Jon ‘dancing with Bruce’)

dmac

dmac

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