Archive | December, 2013

Thank you Bruce, for bringing me home

31 Dec

bruce springsteen

 

Today is 31 December. It is wet outside, been raining fitfully the last couple of days, the last couple of days of 2013. The door is wide open, that is the door out onto the balcony and that other door, the one through which a world of opportunity awaits.

I get up, grab the cd on top, lift the cover, open the other cover and push play. And suddenly I’m reliving the best year of my life.

 

I been knocking on the door that hold the throne

I been looking for the map that leads me home…

We take care of our own

 

Why now, why this year? Was it turning the big 40 that did it, that finally flipped the switch to ON? I don’t know, maybe, but I’m not going to dwell on it. Instead, I’m embracing it totally, without thought or reservation. Savouring it. Every. Single. Second.

 

You put on your red dress for me tonight honey

We’re going on the town now

Looking for easy money

 

This is not to say that it’s all been smooth sailing, not at all. But that’s just the thing. It’s life. There can be no highs without the lows, no ups without the downs. After the light there’s dark. The yin and the yang. The rock and the roll.

 

Shacked and drawn, shackled and drawn

Pick up the rock son, carry it on

 

I had wished for this year to be it, to be that seminal point where I would make that connection and sparks would fly and I would touch the stars. It just happened. No explanation given, none needed. Magic, that’s what it is. But not the tricky kind. Without foolery. Not fake. The real thing. What you see is what you get. And even if you keep on wondering why, you just have to know one thing, you are never going to need anything else. Excuse me; I am never going to need anything else.

 

There’s a new world coming, I can see the light
I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be all right

 

So therefore, I have only one thing to ask of you – with my head in the clouds and my hand on my heart and my feet firmly planted on mother earth, let me be who I am, even if it makes no sense to you whatsoever. If I don’t harm anybody with my words or actions, if I’m a considerate human being with respect for my fellow earthlings (human and not), if I don’t cause chaos and destruction with whatever I deem fit to do with my life, then let me be me.

 

Now get yourself a song to sing 
And sing it ’til you’re done
Sing it hard and sing it well

 

During the last 12 months, the realization finally set in, at the same time gradual but also instantaneous, that I’ve set my life to the soundtrack of Bruce Springsteen. How is it possible that a man who released his first studio album (Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., 1973), the same year that I was born, thousands of miles apart and on opposite sides of the ocean (Jersey vs. Johannesburg), whose life is not only worlds apart from my own in geography but also in the day-to-day of living it, can speak so clearly and without reservation to ME? And is continuing to do so unequivocally and will so for as long as there is rhythm and rhyme.

 

This is my confession
I need your heart

 

That’s the thing with music, it stops time, it makes you forget, it does something, it gives everybody that thing that everybody needs in that moment. It gave me what I needed on that night in July in Kilkenny. Under an Irish sky, my organs of hearing, “responsible for maintaining equilibrium and sensing sound”, took in line after line after line of pure melodic prose and poetry.

 

C’mon and take your best shot 
Let me see what you got
Bring on your wrecking ball

 

It was the 66th and last stop on the European leg of the “Wrecking Ball” tour for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. It was also part of my yearlong celebration of turning 40 and making it one for the books. The biggest and best and most badass present anyone can give themselves.

 

Honey, it ain’t got a name
You just know it when you see it
Baby, you’ve got it
Baby, you’ve got it
C’mon and give it to me

 

With blood dripping from his hand, and stripped down to a soaking wet t-shirt, he made his way back to the middle of the stage, one more time. When the last notes were played, he pointed to his heart, kissed his fingers, waved goodbye and said “Be good to yourselves”.

 

We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

 

There was no way I could walk away from Nowlan Park that night and that experience and not be affected. I’m actually still struggling to put it into words, properly and with everything that it deserves. You had to be there, really be there, in body and spirit, in soul, to get it. But there’s also that fear, with something like this, that as the clock ticks, that THAT feeling will fade away. Not in this instance however, not one iota of fear about the lingering forever-after, none whatsoever. It’s still here, as I’m writing this, I close my eyes, and I’m back…

 

Dreams will not be thwarted
This train…
Faith will be rewarded

 

Those seven most glorious of days on the Emerald Isle, with Nowlan Park and Kilkenny shining like a beacon, was way too short, I know. I can describe it in now other way than ‘The trip that changed my life’. I am forever and eternally grateful.  And if I say life changing, I mean l-i-f-e-c-h-a-n-g-i-n-g. It gave me no choice other than to start living life to the fullest, and on my terms. It’s my life and I am doing it my way.

 

To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart
We are alive

 

I sleep soundly at night (except when it’s full moon, don’t ask…), and I don’t regret anything I’m doing. Sorry, this is a lie; there is one thing I do regret – wasted opportunities. But no more, hell no! If this means having to “boldly go where angels fear to tread”, then this fabulous and fearless 40 year old says – bring it on, I can hardly wait!

 

We trusted our skills and our good sails
Our faith that with God the righteous in this world prevail

 

Everything fits like a glove, like the skin that I know I am absolutely and unashamedly supposed to be living in. The one that is grateful for and appreciate the one that was shed before as it is now the foundation for the new layer to grip and grow and prosper into something glowing. The one that has had its fair share of ups and downs and has the battle scars, some not seen by the naked eye, to prove it. The one that has had goose bumps and the hairs standing up from countless exhilarating encounters and experiences. But above all, the one that will forever grow and stretch and fold and mould into more of me. 

I’m going now while I’m still young my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely I’ll send for you when I can

 

The sun is out. The cd stops. I push repeat.

 

I been knocking on the door that hold the throne

I been looking for the map that leads me home…

 

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It’s the flip of a coin, the roll of a dice

30 Dec

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Bruce Springsteen – The man, the music, the magic

26 Dec

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He’s The Boss. They are the E Street Band. We are The Fans.

And for the last four decades, on highways and byways, alleyways and train tracks, by planes, trains and automobiles, it’s been one hell of a ride.

So, does it matter therefore how Bruce Springsteen became The Boss, or why the mighty men and women came to be known as the legendary E Street Band? No, it doesn’t.  At the heart and the core of this journey of endurance has been this – it’s been a collective effort, with the companionship between Springsteen taking the wheel, the E Streeters riding shotgun and the legions of fans crammed into the backseat.

This is something the man is forever grateful for, an utterly rewarding and fulfilling career, from “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J” (January 1973) to “High Hopes” (January 2014), with worldwide album sales in excess of 120 million.

“I’m thankful that I have a dedicated, faithful audience that’s followed along with me a good part of the way. It’s one of my life’s great blessings—having that companionship and being able to rely on that companionship. You know, “companionship” means breaking bread with your brothers and sisters, your fellow human beings—the most important thing in the world! It’s sustained my family and me and my band throughout my life.”

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In the 1960’s, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen got that first peek under the hood with a second-hand acoustic guitar bought by money saved up from paint jobs. Then he started tinkering on a Kent, a Christmas present from his mother and for the first time the youngster could stand what he was seeing. The engine properly purred into life with a Fender Telecaster, bought after signing with Columbia Records in 1972. Various models have since been added and discarded, with Springsteen making more than good on his promise of “I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk”.

Speaking the language of rock and roll to their “brothers and sisters” is what the man and his band of magical music makers know how to do best. It’s making that connection through the power of this unique ministry that has created a devoted following across the globe, underlined by nothing short of spiritual I-have-seen-the-light-experiences.

These familiarities of the millions of devoted followers have moved and moulded and changed with the times. Case in point – in the 70’s it was the tapes of the bootleggers Bruce called upon at his shows. Today it’s the famed request signs, hauled from city to city, country to country, and continent to continent.

Despite these wondering ways and racking up the miles, Springsteen himself always returns to the one place he calls home, music.

“But I’m looking forward to continuing my adventure with my friends and exhuming a few more of those mysteries and seeing where it takes us all.”

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And his friends have become our friends, the fans’ friends, that is the legendary E Street Band. We can name each one, cheer when new faces are added, cry when stalwarts are lost. It’s almost like we are all in the band too, and that’s a rock and roll thing, according to Stevie van Zandt. He should know, he’s one of the mighty men of this gang. (The E Street Band is finally getting recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 when they get the Award for Musical Excellence. Springsteen was inducted as a solo artist in 1999.)

Springsteen never wanted to be rich or famous or happy for that matter, he just wanted to be great. The accolades accumulated in a recording career spanning 40 plus years are testimony to this complete commitment to his craft. That’s all he’s ever had, all he’s ever lived for.

It’s in this being just Bruce Springsteen, by speaking to the heart and not the head, that he’s making that connection. It’s in this acknowledgement that ordinary people, folks like you and me, pay with blood, sweat and tears to be delivered from the eternal and everlasting power of rock and roll. He calls it a cooperative thing, wanting to grow together, becoming part of people’s lives.

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“You’re the reason that I’m out here right now, and that I’m going to push myself till it feels like my heart’s going to explode…

I want to get as far in your soul as I can, and I want to shake you and wake you up as intensely as I can and wake myself up in the same process…”

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Of howling wolves, sunlight, moonlight and love

17 Dec

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Once upon a time

14 Dec

once upon a time

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Trying to believe

14 Dec

trying to believe

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No rules

11 Dec

no rules