This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 25, 2005 5:31 AM. The previous post in this blog was "You know you love it". The next post in this blog is A whole new ballgame?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, November 25, 2005

Bruce and me, cont'd

When I was reminiscing about my early days of Bruce Springsteen fandom last week, I posted some photos from the mid-'70s and early '80s of Bruce, me, and some others. But in a hurry I was unable to come up with all the photos I had of that era. I've got boxes and boxes of memorabilia, and like the memories they evoke, they're not all that well organized.

Never say die, though. When something old is misplaced, you say a prayer to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, and keep looking. The other night, while avoiding work, I decided to take another look through some of those boxes, and lo and behold, a few more Bruce photos, which I had taken, emerged.

Here's how close we got to the Boss on Halloween night 1975 in Oakland. This was in the Paramount Theater on Telegraph Street. There was an orchestra pit in front of the stage, and we were in the front row (through the magic of mail order Bruce concert tickets). The show started right on time, because it was a Bill Graham show. We walked down the aisle about 15 seconds into the first song.

The first or second number was "Sprit in the Night," and there's a stop about two thirds of the way through (at "Killer Joe gone, passed out on the lawn"). At that point Springsteen dives into the pit, the lights all go black, and he disappears. After a couple of seconds, he pops up on the other side of the wooden rail right in front of me, and a spotlight quickly finds him. We were actually too close to take a decent picture with my little Kodak flash camera. But I did manage to click off one shot, and this is it:

When he appeared about six inches from my face, here is the guy he saw. Remember, it was Halloween, I was out with the boys, and I was trying my best to be in the costume of a Jersey Shore greaser:

Yep, that's the same t-shirt I was wearing in Winona, Minnesota a year and change before.

Bruce wore his bowler hat for the first few songs, but those sunglasses stayed on for much longer than that. They may have been the same shades I saw him in at Kean College a year or so before. Later on, when the show got to the sweaty parts ("Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," "Devil With a Blue Dress On," etc.), off came the leather jacket, leaving us with this:

The other photo I was glad to find was one I took at the Performing Arts Center in San Jose on June 29, 1978. This was when "Darkness on the Edge of Town" had just come out, and we got a new, clean-shaven Bruce, whose dream had been realized, as he was finally a star:

After that show, my buddies and I from the Stanford campus radio station got backstage, where I ate a piece of the band's pizza (drawing puzzled looks from "Miami" Steve Van Zandt, as he was then known) while we waited for our brief audience. And it was there that my second and final Bruce handshake took place. It was a fan's dream.

One thing I've thought about in the week since my other post was that I neglected to mention Springsteen's main sidekick, the saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Also known as "the Big Man," Clarence was a perfect foil to the little skinny Bruce. He was black, big and beautiful, and the two of them clowned around gloriously while they were on stage together. There was a subtle racial harmony message there that resonated with some of us. I've blogged about Clarence before, but it's about time I got his picture in the mix here, also from San Jose, as he and Bruce were playing off each other:

When I moved to Portland six weeks later, I had a few of the pictures from San Jose blown up by a fellow who had a photo shop on the south side of East Burnside, around 29th -- upstairs from where the thrift shop is now. His business was called "Sometimes the Magic Works." It was well named. He was helpful, and he seemed like a nice man.

Comments (5)

Thanks for the stories, Jack. I became a Springsteen fan in the early 80s and over the years was particulary impressed with his willingness to stand up on controversial issues.

In 2000, I was volunteering along with Sen. Hatfield and others, on a committee called Life for a Life, which aimed to replace the death penalty here with mandatory life sentences...A true life sentence for a life taken. In the end, our ballot initiative fell just short of the necessary number of valid signatures needed to make the ballot, but nonetheless, Bruce was helpful. Here's how:

"Dead Man Walking" in Portland, Oregon
Bruce Springsteen called attention to the Life for a Life Campaign in Portland, Oregon on April 4 just before presenting the crowd with a chilling rendition of "Dead Man Walking." Springsteen's Portland concert was the 1999-2000 tour premiere of this song, which was written for the movie of the same name.

Life for a Life Executive Committee member Arwen Bird (http://westernprisonproject.org/cscs) met Springsteen before the show on behalf of Former Oregon U.S. Sen. Mark O. Hatfield and the Life for a Life Committee. The meeting with Springsteen was arranged by Sr. Helen Prejean, author of the book and screen play for "Dead Man Walking."

It would have been great to have seen Springsteen at the smaller venues you mentioned.

And to tie music back to policy, I look forward to the day when the United States realizes that life imprisonment with no chance of parole is a better punishment than is execution.

Steve Earle has also been very active on that front. Having done some serious hard time behind bars, he knows what he's talking about.

I support the death penalty in theory, but in reality I would rather employ guards for a lifetime then attorneys for a year. Do the math of the costs of capital cases versus lifetime sentences.

Never been able to get myself to be a Springsteen fan, his constipated singing kinda rubs me wrong.

But Clarence Clemons rocks! Get his solo stuff if you don't have it.

And I drove by the Paramount a few months ago. (I assume you meant to say the theater on Braodway, not Telegraph). It has been remodeled and is returning to its former glory, you will be happy to know.

Ah yes, it fronts on Broadway, with the back end on Telegraph. We got a little lost coming over from Palo Alto, as I recall, hence our arrival just after the Bill Graham alarm clock went off.

Clicky Web Analytics