vote for change update from the road

It will all have to settle some more, and it’s not over yet either, but so far, it’s been freaking *surreal*. Starting with the sight of Bruce Springsteen and Michael Stipe standing onstage together, Peter Buck and Mike Mills playing on “Born To Run,” Conor Oberst hugging Clarence Clemons and jumping around the stage with a pair of maracas like an emo jumping bean, to the Dixie Chicks appearing out of nowhere last night just in time for “People Have The Power” (how is this song not a standard and why am I the only person who knows all the words? ack.)… yeah, it’s been freaky all right.

The Bright Eyes/R.E.M/Springsteen pairing worked a million times better than it seemed on paper. There was so much good will and cameraderie up there, it was like the spirit of the E Street Band spilled over into everyone. Aside from some morons yelling “Freebird!” during Bright Eyes’ set in Philadelphia, and some cross-armed grouchy-faced Republicans way up front in that same city (boy, did those guys *not* know what to do with Michael Stipe wiggling his ass in their faces) – the audience has been inspired and I hope empowered. And even Philly, walking out, the place was buzzing frantically and excitedly.

Other snapshots: “Sonic Reducer” on the iPod as we drove into Cleveland. The MC5 bringing us into Detroit at 3a.m. (and proudly on my shirt the next day at the show – instead of “rocking the house,” Bruce invoked the Five by changing it to “Kick out the jams!”). Scoring on the GA lottery twice and being closer to the stage than I could have hoped for. Michael Stipe singing Patti’s version of “Because The Night”! Bruce doing Elvis moves during his “Man On The Moon” cameo. Listening to Fogerty and the ESB soundchecking “Green River” behind a door in Detroit. The magnificence of Cobo Hall and the sadness that Detroit, such a great rock and roll town, is no more, that rooms like it pretty much no longer exist. The iPod having a sense of humor and serving up “Tiny Dancer” somewhere on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the middle of the night, driving from Philadelphia to Cleveland, forcing us to sing along and quote “Almost Famous” to each other.

And finally, me beginning my interview with Peter Buck (for the next issue of Backstreets) with a phrase I never thought I’d utter in my entire life:

“So, as I was mentioning to Bruce just now….”

Next stop on the Vote For Change tour: Pearl Jam in St. Louis. Then back home where I’ll catch the 10/13 show in New Jersey. I had a moment of temporary insanity where I started looking for 10/11 tickets, but realizing the number of performers, and how tight the show is already, the chances of there being some huge spontaneous unbelievable once-in-a-lifetime moments is slim and none… or at least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.