The 'Boss'-man cometh

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Something in my DNA changed when I heard the “Boss” for the first time. It was like the first time I saw “Jaws.”

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the radio, the rapid-fire snare drum opening to “Born to Run” erupts and, buckle up sports fans, we’re off.

Bruce Springsteen sweats music. He smells like a combination of Brut, motor oil and salt water taffy. He is the kind of cultural icon that Jimmy Fallon dedicates an entire week to on “Late Night.” Jon Stewart did the honors for a “Rolling Stone” interview in March.

From regularly appearing at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park to playing guitar for a couple on the beach; Springsteen is to New Jersey what Abraham Lincoln is to Illinois.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will bring the “Wrecking Ball” Tour to Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, for two days; Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3. (As of this writing, tickets are still available for both dates, as well as Sept. 19-22 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.)

The band is known for playing marathon sets filled with hits and lesser-known tracks from Springsteen’s catalog that spans 17 albums since 1973 with the same enthusiasm as when they debuted. On a recent stop Wednesday, Aug. 29, Springsteen played 30 songs at Vernon Downs in Vernon, N.Y.

Since the release of a whimsical collection of Pete Seeger songs in 2006 on “We Shall Overcome: the Seeger Sessons,” Springsteen has embraced his place in modern American music, telling the tales of regular folk from throughout the country.

The opening track on “Wrecking Ball” pulls no punches with “We Take Care of Our Own.”

The song is a tale of national realism using that familiar tone that challenges the status quo.   

“Where’s the work that’ll set my hands, my soul free

Where’s the spirit that’ll reign over me

Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea.”

“We Take Care of Our Own”

“Shackled and Drawn” is a modern sea shanty full of grit and gospel. I was always amazed at the beauty and raw energy that Springsteen captures in lyrics and rhythms.

Many of Springsteen’s early songs can only be truly enjoyed in a manual transmission sports car with windows down so the side-mirror rattling-subwoofers and roaring exhaust create a cacophony of idealism.

“Thunder Road” evokes memories of Maynard’s Café coming to life on a sleepy winter night.

Much of that distinct sound that fans associate with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was defined by its horn section.  Sadness washed over the E Street Band last year when iconic sax man Clarence Clemons died, his nephew Jake Clemons has carried the torch on this tour to positive reviews.

I must admit that my favorite Springsteen song is from “Nebraska,” the acoustic album that helped me delve deeper into his catalog. “Atlantic City,” is a hauntingly honest tale about the town I love. The lyrics are familiar to residents of South Jersey in the ‘80s and beyond who are proud of its representation of the beacon of Absecon Island.

“Well now everything dies baby that's a fact

But maybe everything that dies someday comes back

Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty

And meet me tonight in Atlantic City”

- “Atlantic City”

I’m not making the pilgrimage to see Springsteen this weekend although I wish I were. I’ll enjoy my Labor Day weekend knowing that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are keeping the “Streets of Philadelphia” safe while I’m on the boardwalk. Maybe next year Springsteen’s biggest fan will convince him to come to Atlantic City. 

Reference material for The High Note blog.

Look for the High Note music column every Saturday on www.shorenewstoday.com. 

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