Inside was the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia where Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were performing. It was a great place to hunker down for the evening with 19,000 other like-minded folks while the wind swept snow flurries around outside and the temperature dropped into single digits.
I hadn’t seen Springsteen live since 1982. It turned out to be well worth the Friday evening rush hour traffic, parking, and playing computer roulette with Ticketmaster. For three and a half hours Bruce sang, played, explained, crowd surfed, danced, and made merry with us. By the finale where the house lights were up and the 19,000 were on their feet singing along, bouncing in place to Shout, it was not only a nice, warm place to be with your friends, but it was pretty much on fire.
In wise recognition of the median age of his audience, Bruce alternated periods of frenzied rocking with a string of ballads, giving everyone a chance to sit down and recoop, because there wasn’t going to be any intermission, that was for sure. While we sat and listened to The Boss alone in the spotlight during these interludes, it gave him an opportunity to talk a little about his songs.
One song he sang during the time on stage out there alone was Independence Day. I’ve heard it many times before and always as a story (and Springsteen is quite a writer) of a young man’s leaving his home and saying goodbye to a father he can no longer get along with. The young man must go out and pursue his dreams, but still loves and now must part from, his father. We get the impression from the song, things have not been especially smooth between the two.
Springsteen explained a little bit more before he sang last night. He said something along the lines of this, “We write songs when we’re young before we know much. We may see a father at that time of our lives as someone who has given up on his dreams, who has compromised and settled, and we see ourselves maybe ending up there, and we see it as weakness, and we want none of that.”
He paused and then continued. “Then as we get older and live life some, we come to realize just what those compromises actually gave our families and friends." He paused once more before beginning to play, saying finally, "The beauties of compromise.”
For those of us juggling writing dreams, day jobs, editors, marketing, and family, it's a thoughtful reminder.