Friday, 4 November 2016

Bruce Springsteen

First Things First

What's in a word?

Doesn't that sound better than Retirement?
In my last post I mentioned that I did not like the word "retirement." It has negative connotations of withdrawing from the world and suggests a person is used up and redundant.  I needed a new word, a new term.  The wonderful Janis reminded me in her comment on my last post that the Spanish word for retired is "jubilado," which I'm sure must be derived from the Spanish word "jubilo" which in turn means joy.  I think it's great that the Spanish word for retired is linked to the word for joy and happiness; a much better connotation than our dreary "retire." As a result I have decided that I am no longer retired, I'm "jubilado."  Great. The only trouble with "jubilado" is that in colloquial Spanish it apparently means, "to get rid of." Oh well, back to the drawing board.  
Can you imagine a wine labelled "retired"?- I don't think so

A new snappy phrase for retirement?  (Probably not)

What we have to take into account is that there are many people in their 50s and 60s who work but who don't see it as work because they enjoy it so much.  The sense of freedom, of "jubilo"  that so many retirees experience is freedom from working to someone else's agenda, having to be there when you would rather be doing something else, having to do a job on terms that are set by someone else.  I will work and volunteer but I will do so on my terms and for that reason I'm going to think of my retirement as "Freedom From Salaried Slavery" or FFSS for short.  What a catchy little phrase that is. Bound NOT to catch on. Oh well, let's get to the tenuous link.

Tenuous Link 

Let's now think of people, maybe in their 60s who still work at their day job even though they don't have to and who do it because they love what they do.  These are the lucky ones. The blessed. But who fits that bill?  Oh, I know, someone like say, Bruce Springsteen.  (There, that's my tenuous, tortuous link).

Oh Bruce What's wrong with you?

In truth I have wanted to write about Bruce for some time and I think this blog is a legitimate place to talk about The Boss.  After all he is well into his 60s, he did retire from some menial jobs, albeit in his 20s and I am sure he reads this blog in between taking out the recycling and kicking his heels at home when not playing huge gigs, writing successful  books, touring the bloody world, making astute political comments and generally being the "coolest" guy on the planet. Are you picking up some simmering resentment?  It's true, I hate to admit it.  He is just too bloody perfect!  

 No More Heroes?

In England we like to knock our heroes, build them up only to then knock them from their pedestals.  Not only do we demolish our heroes but we enjoy it too, we love it. It's just,well, there's nothing to knock down and demolish with Bruce. He's a spoilsport. If you are reading this Bruce , please take note: demolishing heroes is our national past time -so play the game, please. Release a rubbish album, walk off stage after 45 minutes, do something crass, support Donald Trump. For inspiration look at some other artistic heroes:

Paul McCartney, great in the Beatles but since then; wings and the frog chorus, do me a favour.
Eric Clapton, steady decline since the days of the Yardbirds and Cream.(ooh controversial)
Shakespeare, a one-hit wonder with Hamlet.  

You get the picture.

And then there's Bruce.  Try as I might I cannot knock him off his pedestal.  The man has consistently produced great albums throughout his career.  He continues to be relevant.  He is mega-famous and rich but is still authentic and genuine.  As a performer he continues to deliver fantastic concerts, connecting to his audience and giving them high octane, high sweat,value for money performances which last much longer than they should. He's kept it real. He's written songs that are timeless. There are not many artists you can say all that  about.  Bruce, please give us something with which we can knock you!

Bruce, I love you!

The truth is I love Bruce.  Unconditionally, completely and yes,I'm expecting his baby any day soon.  First and foremost I love Bruce for the reasons outlined above.  Great songwriter and performer who hasn't let fame and fortune turn him into a monumental pain. In terms of this blog and writing about a new phase of life in your 60's, Bruce is pure inspiration. He is the embodiment of the phrase, "age is all in the mind." In August this year Bruce, 66 years old, and his band set a new record for longest gig on American soil- 4 hours and 1 minute in East Rutherford.  His longest show ever was 4 hrs 6 minutes in Helsinki in 2012 when he was 62 years young (apparently he also played a 35 minute acoustic set a  few hours prior to this gig). That is a million miles from retiring.It is a majestic two fingered salute to ageing and notions of, "taking it easy." A regular guy becomes legend. But this legend is not just "out there," removed from the real world.  His is knee deep in the swamp of existence and I, like many others, have my own personal connection or relationship with Bruce.

The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship-Bruce and I 


Relationship you say? Well, let's add a proviso.  Me and Bruce don't catch up regularly; we don't hang out on the boardwalk knocking back beers and playing pool. We met briefly just once.  In fact he probably has not heard of me, but there is a connection; a personal angle in my love and respect for Bruce that for me is very real. 

Let's go back in time. It started when I was at university in 1975.  His album, the "Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle" had been sent to the entertainment committee at Warwick University.  I was helping out on the fringes of this committee and we would be sent lots of albums from record companies trying to promote their acts to get bookings for them at the student union.  Bruce's album arrived along with many others.  There was also some blurb about Bruce (who was unknown to most of us at that time) proclaiming that he was the next Dylan. (Poor Bruce would have cringed at this crass marketing I'm sure).  Not a great way to promote a relatively unknown  artist at that time.  I had never heard of Bruce Springsteen so I asked if I could listen to the album.  I was told to take the album and keep it as the committee had no intention of booking this upstart Dylan wannabe.  I took the album but when I went to play it I noticed that it was extremely warped as it had been left on top of a radiator. I put a coin on top of the stylus to stop it from jumping around the warped record and listened.  I was blown away.  This album had everything, sweet acoustic numbers,  Latin infused songs , a great band and I suddenly got the Dylan reference: the lyrics were incredible, the songwriting sharp.  I think we could have booked and have had Bruce Springsteen play Warwick as his first UK concert but we had turned down the opportunity.  We turned down Bruce! I seemed to be the only one saying, "This guy is great, I think he's got a future."  Now there's an understatement.  A few months later ,"Born to Run" came out, Bruce played the Hammersmith Odeon and the rest, as they say, is history. It would be 10 years before I got to see Bruce play live for the first time and 33 years until I actually got to meet him. But that can wait until next time.

An unwarped replacement which Bruce signed for my son in 2007
The handwritten set list for his December 2007 O2 show is on the right



  1. What a great story! I'm a Bruce fan too.

    I love that you found a wine named Jubilado! I'll have to see if I can get it here... it would make a great retirement gift for someone. I wasn't aware of the colloquial Spanish translation of Jubilado... maybe it means " to get rid of" stress :)

  2. Hi Janis, you're in luck. Jubilado is made by Barr Estates which is in Paso Robles in your very own California. If you get a bottle let me know what it tastes like; mature and well rounded I'd imagine! Glad you are a fellow Bruce fan. Feel slightly apprehensive about part two though.


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