The first time I saw Bruce Springsteen was sometime in the 1990s. I'd first heard of him in the early '70s from a couple of guys who'd just moved to San Diego from New jersey. But other than the song "Rosalita," I was underwhelmed. For some reason, Springsteen just didn't speak to me.
Things happened over the years. I left San Diego for graduate school in Eugene (do I have to add "Ore." to that? seriously?), got my first newspaper job in Cottage Grove (yes, Ore.) and then, as the '70s evolved into the '80s, I moved to Spokane, went to work for The Spokesman-Review and settled into a decade of listening to the bands that MTV made famous — but still didn't develop an affection for Springsteen.
Then came the '90s and major life changes. After those changes settled, I met a woman who, having attended the Camden, N.J., school Rutgers University, was well familiar with everything the E Street Band had to offer. She'd attended at last one show of every tour the band had put on. She'd even been to Asbury Park.
So when the opportunity came to buy tickets to a Springsteen show at the Tacoma Dome, I — with a little urging from my friend Leslie Kelly — got on the phone and managed to purchase tickets. Which, as luck would have it, placed us in the 10th row. And gave me the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about: the energy, the showmanship, the poetry of Springsteen's lyrics.
It was those lyrics that spoke to me most last Thursday night when we caught Springsteen at Seattle's KeyArena. We weren't in the 10th row (which was all people standing anyway), but we were seated directly across the arena and so the sound was good, the sightlines were clear — and, in any event, the large-screen TVs made viewing easy.
And for the first two-plus hours, the band played the entirety of Springsteen's "The River" album. Then they went into a greatest-hits set, which lasted for another near-two hours. At least that's what I've heard. We were scheduled to catch a 12:50 a.m. flight to New York, so we had to leave early — and, yes, we missed the appearance by Eddie Vedder.
But I did come to appreciate what I learned that first night that I saw Springsteen at the Tacoma Dome: Nobody works harder than this guy. And after the show, I went back to look at the lyrics of "The River" and was struck by the power of the man's poetry. Especially this line:
Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
I came late to Springsteen fandom. But I made it here. And I'll go see him as long as he has enough energy to take the stage.
Chances are that I'll drop before he does.