Reflections on the MusiCare’s 2013 person of the year Bruce Springsteen tribute Friday, 2/8/13

17 albums, 20 Grammys, 1 Oscar….so far.

The night was star studded from wall to wall. From Jason Mraz , Jimmy Web, Tom Brokaw, to every head of every record label, to ( fill in almost every major recording star you can think of, and then some ) all had something in common – they respectfully and enthusiastically claimed their seats as fans this night. Some stepped up to perform. Elton John, John Legend, Alabama Shakes, Neil Young, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, to name a few. The galaxy was aglow in tribute to the Boss.

But what left me with a lifelong impression was Bruce himself. He attended with his immediate and extended family in tow, complete with their boyfriends, cousins, and distant uncles. All present surrounding him in honor. Even his 87 yr. old mom upped the fundraising by throwing in one of her famous home cooked Lasagna dinner to help the cause.

And after all the tribute performances were through and Bruce stepped up to the podium to speak, all witnessed an ageless soul for his art display why the ages haven’t slowed him, despite his staggering success.

He spoke plainly ( and with ample use of sailor language! ) of the musician’s life, heart, and struggles. And how, as his song says, we should take care of our own. He even confessed that his initial motive for considering being MusiCare’s person of the year for 2013 began with his wanting to promote….new music! His relentless drive to connect again and again through song and art.

He is a regular Joe kind of guy. You could tell he wasn’t smooth with all the showbiz banter. But man, he spoke from the heart. And that heart was the same as a guy who netted $25.00 per gig in the beginning days, after paying his band and his bar tab, to a guy worth 100+ million. His last words were ” Somebody give me a guitar! ”

He then launched into a set that would have exhausted a man easily half his age. My favorite moment – when he introduced his departed bandmate Clarence Clemmon’s son just prior to him ripping into one of his father’s classic sax solos. You could hear the DNA with every note. All the progressive 1%ers abandoned their showbiz cool restraint and packed to the front of the stage. Once again Bruce did it. He made an almost religious experience out of his performance, and the alter call summoned the most jaded industry person as new fans.

When the music stopped he hung out after meeting with everyone, vs. some in his league who felt that beneath them. And when it was time to leave I recognized that everyone had that same look in their eyes that I had, and have witnessed with each time I have seen him perform before. That look of being transcended, satisfied, and energized. And the knowing that they just experienced a true legend. But not a “sing the oldies I am done doing newbies” legend. This guy has a ton more show in him, and many more stories to tell.

I concluded my duties and took myself home. It was way past late. I was bone tired, but all I could think of was getting to a guitar and playing every Boss song I know. I felt proud to be a songwriter and musician….

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