We’ve been together since I was in college. We’ve had some memorable nights (remember Giants Stadium in ’85, when you recorded the live Born to Run; the Amnesty show in Philly in 1988 where you said “looks like we caught the end of summer here”, and did Jungleland “just for Philadelphia”, that being, by weirdest coincidence, a few days before my father died and I realized what I’d really caught was the last of childhood; remember NJPAC last May?) You held the show late for two hours in 2008, at Giants Stadium, when a tractor trailer flipped on the Turnpike; I got an email from the Stadium (errr…) on my Blackberry and hightailed it out of Ocean County at 4:00. Spent the next five and a half hours in traffic, the last one surrounded by cars of people with their windows rolled down singing your songs and waving their tickets, to arrive at 9:30 being waved into free parking, hearing music blasting from the Stadium, and getting to my seat disconsolate at the fact I’d missed half the show to find out…I’d only missed the first song. You waited for us. If you were in one of those cars you would have been thrilled to have a performer you loved to see do that for you, but hey, it was always like you WERE in the cars. And then July turned to August at midnight while Clarence played the Jungleland solo, last time I ever heard him do it, and it was a perfect night. And then we closed the stadium together in October, 2009, and you opened with Wrecking Ball, acknowledging the passage of time as well as you ever did the future at our fingertips when we were young, and holding out the same solidarity you always have: “hold tight to your anger, and don’t fall to your fear”.
And with you and I having started back in college, my now college senior daughter and I sang you Happy Birthday (twice) a couple of weeks back at the Stadium when you held the show for the lightning/high wind delay. Near 2 AM you cut up the birthday cake your family brought out like a samurai and presented the pieces to the fans down front, bemoaning something like, “we need 50,000 fucking forks”. You got me through a lot – just the other day, in fact, I wailed Promised Land on the way to work a few days ago, meaning every word, on the verge of tackling some very nasty, personal, high stakes business, determined that I had my bags packed and I was headed straight into the storm, ready to blow away the dreams that tear me apart and break my heart. You embodied what my husband, much later in my life, summarized as the biker ethic: “you may have to smell it, but you never have to eat it”.
I was so proud of “We Take Care of Our Own”, with the very clear message that we all deserve for this country to be its ideals, and it ain’t happening now either. And how you said you were going to stay out of politics this year. I was certain you understood what a fraud Obama has been.
I always admired your intelligence. Very, very rarely do you come across anybody with your kind of emotional intelligence paired with the other kind. Being able to write things like, oh, “I won big once…but…inside I felt like I was carrying the broken spirits of all the ones who lost”, or, I’d put it on my NJ license plate if it would fit, “is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse?” and even the one I quoted at my husband’s memorial service: “I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul”.
So how can you possibly say that Obama has passed “guaranteed health care for most of our citizens” and that’s a reason to support him? It’s not health care, Bruce, it’s health INSURANCE. Insurance is often as big a barrier to appropriate care as no insurance is. I know you know the difference, and I don’t want to go all lawyer on you since after my very prole childhood (dad was a janitor) your songs propelled me through law school, but…care and insurance aren’t the same. Trust me. I’m stuck in a high deductible plan that ensures I’ll spent at least $7000 in a year on insurance/deductibles before I get dollar one from the insurance company. I’m looking forward to Medicare, which I genuinely never thought I’d say, and to which I’m not near as close as you.
And I’m outraged that Obama is signing onto a Catfood Commission proposal that, while it might not affect me, will ensure that my college aged kids will be utterly screwed. Utterly. And you campaigning for Obama means either you don’t understand that, impossible in view of how fracking smart you are, or…
Maybe you did it because you see Romney as the worst evil. I am not sure how to hairsplit between the guy who admits he’s just a money grubbing jackwad and a guy who’s going to smile at you until you vote and then allow his chief aide to call you a “fucking retard” while going on to do the same thing as the money grubbing jackward would have. I just re-registered and for the first time in my life didn’t choose a party affiliation. I’m now the one the pols will chase. They assume the independents are between the two parties. They don’t understand many independents are people who grasp that there is now just one party. They will never speak to people like me. But you always have on the political level as well as the, you know, you know you’re getting screwed over at work every day but you still gotta get up and go there for your family level, and you can do this however impossible it feels. I’m baffled, and I don’t understand, will never understand, why you’d put yourself with those people.
I’m not going to break up with you over this. Our history is so long. I think I can work through it. It’s a rough patch. I’ll always be in some Godawful seat in some New Jersey venue dying to hear “Incident on 57th Street”, again. But baby? I’ll never say this rough patch is my fault.