I was clicking away on the Internet and I stopped to read an article on a particular webpage. Because I live in the Philadelphia area and it was early December, this banner ad popped up in the middle of the story I was reading:
Yes sir, our good friend Bruce Springsteen was coming to Philadelphia. He just released a sprawling, seven-disc box set called The Ties That Bind, a comprehensive collection of songs, demos, outtakes and performances from the pivotal The River-era of the venerable Jersey rocker's career. It features the original The River album along with tracks that The Boss deemed sub-par enough to leave off the disc in 1980, but good enough for the fans that have stood by his side for the next 35 years. And, as if the flood of audio wasn't enough, there's four hours of never-before-seen footage of Bruce performing these songs, rehearsing these songs, talking about these songs and burning these songs into two stone tablets with fire from his fingertips.
So, in order to promote this release and sell the faithful followers on a set of essentially Springsteen cast-offs, rejects and filler, he's springing the remainder of the E Street Band from their various retirement facilities and dragging them on the road to recreate the whole The River experience for those who saw it the first time around (like me) and those too young to have witnessed it.
That's right. I saw The guitar-slingin' Jersey Devil for the very first time on December 9, 1980 when The River tour made a stop at the Philadelphia Spectrum. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. He was magical and fully dazzled the audience. Bruce and his band played a marathon three-hour set, delivering their "Detroit Medley" encore with the house lights on and oblivious to the fact that Mark David Chapman was shooting John Lennon to death just 96 miles away.
After that, I saw Springsteen two more times and the spell was broken. Then, he released Lucky Town and Human Touch simultaneously and I was all done with the Bruce Springsteen portion of my life. I was his biggest fan. I still know every single lyric to Lost in the Flood and Incident on 57th Street but now, I couldn't name a Springsteen song that came out after 1985.
So, just out of pure curiosity, I clicked on the banner. I was immediately taken here:
The Wells Fargo Center, the current multi-purpose venue that replaced the outdated (and now long-gone) Spectrum, had placed me in a "virtual waiting room. According to the website, due to the heavy demand for tickets, I was relegated to watching an animated circle of dots draw and redraw itself until I was connected to the actual ticket-purchasing section of their web presence. Well, I had no intention of purchasing tickets, but, I do have a sense of adventure so I waited to see how long it took until I was given the opportunity to actually buy tickets.
Three minutes. I opened another tab.
I read an article. I checked my email. I clicked through a pop-up to see what had become of the cast of F-Troop.
Twenty minutes. That circle had orbited itself about a zillion times.
Thirty-minutes. I went and got a cup of coffee. When I came back, a new graphic appeared, this one offering the option to request the best available tickets for the February 12 performance in Philadelphia. Again, my curious finger clicked the "find tickets" button and it returned with a pair located on an upper level section at a price of $150 each, not including the additional convenience and service charges. The tickets on the secondary market threaten to command upwards of three-hundred dollars a pop.
I laughed to myself. My first concert — Alice Cooper — cost me $6.50 for a ticket. That was the going rate, with a few topping out at ten bucks (Elton John comes to mind.) When I saw Bruce Springsteen in 1980, nineteen-year-old Josh Pincus had to scrape together an unheard of $15 for admission. Thirty-five years later, time had tacked a zero at the end of that already steep price.
I imagine that the shows on this tour will sell out. I imagine Bruce Springsteen will make a ton of money to add to the ton of money he already has. I image the money he will make for touring in support of an album that is thirty-five years old will give him great satisfaction. The one-time working class guy who grew up out behind the dynamo near the darkness on the edge of town is living the "American Dream."
The ties that bind indeed.