Friday, December 26, 2014

Growin' Up: The Day that Bruce Springsteen Asked God

It's creation story season. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The birth of a new year in the Gregorian calendar. It's the dead of winter and oddly, in urges set by a standard for the yearly cycle thousands of years ago, humanity wants to renew hope and light in the dark.

bruce and band
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Agora, 1978
Where does hope and light come from? What generates the spark that grows to a flame that affirms a path out of the cold? 

Just this week -- in time for the holiday shopping season, no doubt -- the Bruce Springsteen Empire upon which the sun probably never sets has released an official version of what acolytes of the Boss have called one of his greatest concerts ever.

The year was 1978. The place: Cleveland, Ohio. The venue: the Agora Theatre and Ballroom, a legendary concert hall seating just 1200 people that hosted nearly every rocker in the universe during the 70's and 80's. The event was the 10th anniversary of WMMS, 101 FM, the Buzzard, arguably the most influential rock station of its era, and more of a reason for Cleveland housing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum than Cleveland's own Alan Freed who some say popularized the term rock 'n' roll. This anniversary was marked by a concert by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band simulcast on WMMS and a network of other like-minded AOR stations estimated to reach three million listeners around the time they kicked into "Rosalita" at the three hour mark.

Springsteen tells a tale of lost youth in the rectory, parents and a parish priest unsure how to relate to their long-haired, guitar-playing, desk-pissing charge. He must go to God, the priest says, to determine the meaning of his life, to inhabit the sources of his creation, to become the man he is meant to be. And this sends the Boss to the Big Man, of course, and the Big Man sends him (in a nicer car and with a request for divine assistance in finding a stolen tape deck) to the holy place where God awaits him. The place is packed. All of humankind is there. Everyone wants to know what it's all about. Bruce Springsteen finds a quiet corner and asks the question that all of the authorities have demanded that he ask the Lord. And so Bruce Springsteen comes to the Lord inquiring about the meaning of his life. And so the word comes down to the Boss in three words that would chart the course of all that was to come: Let it Rock.

Happy New Year.

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