Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band
Good Morning America
Convention Hall, Asbury Park 4-25-06

inside APCH

It was very, very early.

You can wax rhapsodic about the beauty of the early morning hours, and the tiny slim silver crescent moon that hung over the ocean as I drove south on the Garden State Parkway was beautiful, but it was ridiculously EARLY. I left Brooklyn at 4:00 am.

You don’t go to these things for the performance aspect. Not just because of the television factor, of course, but mostly because what true rock and roll icon is a morning person? No, you go for sights like the one we were treated to, Bruce shuffling onto the stage about three seconds after he arrived, that sleepy reluctant foot-dragging walk you may have witnessed your children or young relatives performing, *major* pillow hair, big sunglasses he probably swiped from Bono. Every bit of his body language indicated that when he opened his mouth, it would probably be to yawn into the mic. The audience cheers loudly.

“This is awesome,” he says.
We cheer again.
“I salute you early risers.”
I cheer again, but I am already starting to get tired. It is just after 7 a.m. I am quite sure he just rolled out of bed, into his car, and drove down the road. I had been awake since 3 a.m.
“I must REALLY wanna sell records,” he giggled sleepily. He mumbles something about putting on his stage clothes (which he did… not that I noticed any kind of major difference) and stumbles off the stage.

The off-camera moments were the priceless ones, of course. Bruce joking with the horn section, stage directions: “We need a shorter version, due to the gods of television” (in reference to “Jacob’s Ladder”) and promising the horns, “And I will remember the outro” (which had obviously been forgotten at a previous performance). (Hey, there’s a reason the current APCH shows are referred to as rehearsal shows.)

“Throw that fiddle solo back in the middle — that’s why we got – confused – last night,” Bruce mutters, as the 17 piece ensemble (this band needs a name. more on this later.) gets ready to perform “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” just what suburban housewives want to be watching as they get their kids off to school. Or maybe they do. What was fun to watch was Bruce turning from bruce, when the cameras were off, into BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, once the cameras were on. There was nothing artificial or inauthentic about it — that’s why they call it performing, after all — but it’s rare that we get to see it happen in front of us.

He had no internal monologue this morning, either. Holding up two plastic cups, he informs us: “I drank into one of these, and spit into the other.”
Pause, regards the cups, tilts them into the light, clearly attempting to discern which is which. Not calling for another cup from Kevin. Not keeping this information to himself.
“There should have been a red cup and a blue cup.” He squints into the cups again, makes a choice, swallows.
“I should have picked the other one.”

After watching two versions of “When The Saints Go Marching In” (I preferred the one you didn’t get to see, the more plaintive, unadorned one), he looks at the crowd.
“So what are your plans for the rest of the day?”
People yell various nonsense.
“I’m going back to bed.” Pause. “I actually have my pj’s on under these pants–” and then proceeds to inform us that this is something he usually does, when he takes the kids to school, just pulls on his pants over his pj’s and then climbs back into bed when he gets home.
His wife is attempting to ignore most of this exchange.

The stage manager strolls over and tells Bruce he has about two minutes. Bruce looks around, realizes they can’t play another song in two minutes, so he starts whistling aimlessly.
“WHen they come back, I’m gonna do that. 3 minutes of whistling.”
He whistles again.
“I like that. They’ll call me – The Whistler.”
More whistling.
“The Whistler’s coming to town.”
“The Whistler played last night.”
“I like that, it sounds — mysterious.”
Patti rolls her eyes.
“Patti is complaining about me just out of earshot.”

So that was about it. Three songs, four songs, most repeated at least twice, not as much as I’d hoped to hear, but it was free, and it was cool as hell, and I’d do it again tomorrow, um, afternoon.

Oh, wait.

Which is when you will get your full report on what I think of THE SEEGER SESSIONS.

UPDATE: Grab a mp3 of “Jacob’s Ladder” from this morning here. [from, via Scatter o’ Light]

[And in case you are going to ask, “Why aren’t there any photos of the performance?” you clearly have never been to a Bruce Springsteen concert before. When they say “no cameras” it isn’t a suggestion.]

sunrise on the boardwalk

the line on the boardwalk

media frenzy on ocean ave.