Sunday, February 01, 2009

Glory days, well they'll pass you by

It kills me to say this as a 30-plus-year Bruce Springsteen fanatic, but "Glory Days" was a highly ironic song to close his uberhyped Super Bowl halftime show.

I am old enough to remember how the Boss used to do "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" and "Born to Run." I saw Bruce and the E Street Band live when we all were in our prime.

AFTER WATCHING the Boss live -- via television cameras that neither blink nor filter a performance through wistful admiration before pronouncing a verdict -- a couple of things are pretty damned clear:

* The Boss is almost 60 years old.

* He can jump and run, or he can sing, but he can't do both anymore.

The Associated Press story is kind in its cheerful recitation of just the hype:

The 59-year-old Springsteen and his E Street Band opened with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," then without pause ripped through "Born To Run" and "Working on a Dream," before winding up the set with "Glory Days."

Springsteen, dressed all in black, came out Sunday night with the considerable challenge of packing the bombastic energy of one of his rollicking, three-hour concerts into an abbreviated Super Bowl halftime set.

That turned out to be no problem. He had fireworks, an expansive stage, about 1,000 people on the field and help from a Raymond James Stadium crowd equipped with small flashlights.

A five-piece horn section helped saxophonist Clarence Clemons blast out "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and a gospel choir came on stage to back Springsteen, his wife and bandmate, Patti Scialfa, and guitarist Steven Van Zandt during "Working on a Dream," the title song from his 24th album.
I GUESS SUPER SUNDAY'S overhyped miniextravaganza could have just been an instance where Springsteen's charm and enthusiasm were there, but his voice and execution weren't. But then again, let's face it, there's not a spring chicken anywhere in the band.

Clarence Clemons -- the Big Man -- just turned 67, for Pete's sake. That makes him old enough to be this middle-aged killjoy's father.

Hell, he could be in the Rolling Stones . . . another group well past its prime.

WE ALL, at some point, have to reinvent ourselves. Bruce has done it more than once, then unreinvented, then reinvented the reinvention. Big-ass bands are so '70s, and the members of this big-ass band are heading toward 70.

And unless it's Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, or maybe Benny Goodman or Duke Ellington, supersized sounds don't strike me as the soundtrack to a depression. What we need now is a Woody Guthrie for our national postmodern funk.

That's a bill the Boss can still fill . . . without resorting to taking hits of herbal tea or oxygen. And without subjecting his adoring fans to unintentionally ironic performances of "Glory Days."

I had a friend was a big baseball player
back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
but all he kept talking about was

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days

Well there's a girl that lives up the block
back in school she could turn all the boy's heads
Sometimes on a Friday I'll stop by
and have a few drinks after she put her kids to bed
Her and her husband Bobby well they split up
I guess it's two years gone by now
We just sit around talking about the old times,
she says when she feels like crying
she starts laughing thinking about

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days

Now I think I'm going down to the well tonight
and I'm going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days
THE BOSS had a hell of a lot longer run of glory days than most of us ever could dream of. They passed me by God knows how long ago. And they pass legends by, too.

Maybe it's time for Bruce to enter his Wisdom Days. With a little luck and a lot of grace, those never pass you by.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go off somewhere, kick a garbage can and cry. My youth is dead, and the rest of me is getting there.


Colleen said...

I don't know-- I'm just over half his age, and can't jump onto a grand piano, do a running knee slide into a camera, then get up immediately after a blow to the crotch (which I hear is pretty painful for guys) run around more while singing, then swing a guitar around my body six times. (But then, I do need to get into shape.) I'm just sayin' I don't think he's in as bad shape as you do.

The Mighty Favog said...

Yeah, but he used to could do that and sound GOOD. Last night, he didn't sound good.

At some point, you have to consider whether you're doing the music justice. I don't think folks would blame him for concentrating on the music instead of the showmanship.

As far as the knee slide, I think somebody put too much bowling-lane wax on that part of the stage.

Trust me, if he had hit the camera hard enough with the family jewels, the show WOULD NOT have gone on. Maybe he wears a cup for just such an eventuality. ;-)