Wrecking Ball in Los Angeles

But enough about that. Man, I am already feeling a new rush coming on. It’s late in the morning and late in May. For the past two months things have been a little in the dark, but we’ll see how things go from here. The greatest peak in this period of time, the moment in which the greatest bit of light poured in, was about a month ago at the Bruce Springsteen concert in the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The songs of this new album are violent and roaring, and they speak to the current American soul, furious as ever and cast in shadow.

The concert stayed true to these themes. No doubt Bruce and the E-Street Band have been going through their own private mourning at the loss of Clarence Clemons, Bruce’s soul brother and an icon to anyone who knows the music. His absence was well-known, certainly not shoved beneath the rug.

As the band played, it told stories of men, men reassuring their wives that they will somehow endure through the drought, of men desperate and combing the streets for a quick buck, of angry men ready to take a gun to those who hold the power and let the heavens fall.

To ignore these things for the sake of having a good time, I thought, for the sake of feeling good would have been betrayal. Our ability to acknowledge these things, to endure and one day maybe overcome was what brought us together. It hurt. But no one person was alone. And though the light at the end of the tunnel was still far, too far even to accurately measure, there was a feeling that if we stuck together, we would make it out alright.

There is a point during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” well-known to Springsteen fans, following the line “when the change was made uptown and the big man joined the band.” At this point in the song, Clarence comes in blaring a riff on the saxophone to acknowledge his name amongst his bandmates, and Bruce and to all the fans. The Big Man. And so when the time came in the concert for Clarence to play once more, Bruce kept one hand holding the microphone stand and fell to his knees and bowed his head. The band fell silent. The only noise came from the crowds, roaring throughout the arena in memory of their friend. A beam of stage light shot to a vacant corner of the stage where Clarence once stood. The silence might have lasted a whole minute, as I recalled the moment earlier in the concert when Bruce, at an interlude during “My City of Ruins”, mentioned that we were down a few, for Clarence and organist Danny Federici were not to be seen that night. And though they would not be seen on any other night, “If we’re here, and you’re here, then they’re here.”

I thought about the darkness and the world and its people, and how a friend may come to us in the darkest of times, unable to promise salvation. But they promise their company. And though the day remains unknown when the sun shall rise again, we do know that until then, we have one another.


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