10/9 : The Call of the Wreckin’ Ball
As originally posted on brucespringsteen.net.
It was a party. It was a wake. It was a celebration. It was a goodbye. Tonight at Giants Stadium was all of those things mixed together.
On the surface, it seems puzzling. One might wonder why Giants Stadium needed a sendoff. This is not the loss of a legendary music venue on the level of, say, CBGB’s, the Fillmore East, or the Spectrum. Heck, even football fans aren’t mourning the demise of Giants Stadium.
But it was where Bruce went when there was nowhere left to go. It was the only frontier he hadn’t crossed. He fought as he moved from clubs to theaters to arenas to, finally, Giants effing Stadium. And when the E Street Band returned to Giants Stadium in 2003, it turned into the intergalactic space station for Springsteen fans. You stood shoulder-to-shoulder with fans from all over the country and all over the world. I remember standing there the last night, looking out at the crowd singing along to “Born to Run,” and thinking, “Look hard, because you may never see this again.”
Tonight, of course, I thought the same thing, except that tonight I knew it was true.
Friday night. Perfect weather. No rain in sight. It could have been terrible, and the rain held off until almost the last note was played. 31 songs came off of that stage tonight, over three hours, including Born In The USA. It was a night to think about things like, I wonder where you go to buy an American flag bandanna, isn’t it amazing they still make them? or wonder what Patti thinks, exactly, as she watches her husband bodysurf across the audience, or to look up at the sky and count the stars overhead, and think about the line “I work down at the car wash, where all it ever does it rain,” and realize that no matter how many times you have heard “Downbound Train,” it never hit you quite the same way before. And it was a night to raise your arms in the air and build a house and sing along to the Rolling Stones during the request set (appreciated that the requestee wrote the key of the song on their sign, along with requisite regulation Stones tongue).
Those were just some of the moments tonight. There were dozens of tiny moments making bigger moments, becoming memories.
I wish I could tell you that the super star-studded, grandiose-rumored encore for this evening came to fruition, and that we danced on the field until the wee hours of the morning. Regretfully, the best I can do is report that we had to settle for a view of the back of Brian Williams’ head for a couple of songs and watching Chris Martin in the crowd singing along to “Born in the U.S.A”. Jon Bon Jovi was nowhere to be seen — but on the other hand, neither was the Clapton/Jagger/Townshend/Hendrix/Lennon much-promised combo. (I am exaggerating for effect on the last two, but I have to tell you, had the last show been tomorrow, the rumors would have gotten there.)
“Last to Die” and “Long Walk Home” came back. “Tougher Than the Rest” would have made a more apt congratulatory song for the couple who got engaged tonight than “Sunny Day,” a song that dearly needs a little bit of a rest. “Seven Nights to Rock” should have been back a long time ago. “Kitty” came back again, even more fireworks went off than the past four nights, and then “Jersey Girl,” the number one most requested song of the entire stand, floated through the pyrotechnic smoke.
One more, right? One more. We saw Bruce throw the harmonica back to Kevin before he started “Jersey Girl” so we’ve got a “Thunder Road” or a “Rosie” or something else coming, right? We just got started. But instead of another song (or two, or three) it is Bruce shaking hands with every member of the E Street Band, and then Bruce and Clarence embracing. Once the Big Man was safely on his way down the stairs, Bruce turned to us one more time, held the guitar aloft, and then vanished himself.
In the crowd, no one is leaving. No one is making a move to leave. Everyone is stunned. That can’t be it. Where is Bono? Where is Jon Bon Jovi? Where is — oh, hell, we’ll even take Southside and a cheery “I Don’t Want to Go Home.” But that is it, as the flood lights snap on, blues floats out over the PA, and the roadies swarm over the stage. It seemed odd to say goodbye that way, but Bruce was done, and it was time to go home.
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