On being a serious fan…

I saw Springsteen last night, for the first time. My sister, who’s been moving heaven and earth to attend his concerts since she was a kid, flew to Atlanta to take me. To be there with me for my first time. Even so, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Not from Bruce– I never doubted him. But from myself.

To see someone in person, after you’ve loved them for so long, incorporated them into so many important memories… Bruce, who was there in the happiest moments of my childhood, and the hardest. Whose songs I’ve carried with me to every home, danced to in every kitchen I’ve cooked a meal in. Whose words I’ve crooned to my own kids at bedtime.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself. I was afraid to be disappointed, or too tired, or something… I was afraid to not get enough out of it.

I need stronger faith.

This is going to sound insane to those of you who’ve never been emphatically in love with art, literature or music, a performer or performance. Who’ve never let yourselves tip over the edge of worship. Ironic distance and the safety of self-awareness have no place in this story.

Because never have I experienced anything like the emotions of last night. I had this totally uncontrollable physiological reaction to seeing him, him, play. I wept. Literally. I cried in public. Over and over. I couldn’t stop crying. It was like I couldn’t understand how it was possible that I was in a room (however big) with him. It was the music that overpowered me, but as much it was his presence. His energy, his commitment, and above all–his devotion to the crowd. Gushing out of him and into us and I was crying.

It feels funny to type this now, and I know that some of you will laugh at me, but it didn’t feel funny last night. Because everyone around me, all these crazy awesome rabid fans, didn’t think it was weird at all to see a grown woman crying at a rock&roll song. They knew what it was. People told me their stories, wanted to share their first times with me, as thoughthis shared ecstatic experience was a given. A sacrament.

You think that’s weird?


But then I’m sorry for you.

I’m thinking about faith today, about religion. Not about God–that’s something else again. But the other stuff, the not-God stuff. The community of the faithful. The practice of worship. The rituals we create to surround the things that take us outside ourselves, and at the same time, make us more ourselves. The stuff we share, and what we do with it.

I went to a bunch of Dead shows in high schools, and saw that happen to people, though it never happened to me. I’ve witnessed it at political actions, and a few times I’ve seen something like it at a poetry reading–a roomful of people sharing an experience, transported and informed together, as a body. I’ve seen it happen to people when they were on drugs, together. I’ve stared at pictures of girls welcoming the Beatles, or Elvis, and thought about how much their faces resembled faces at a tent revival.

Well, last night felt like a tent revival to me. Or it felt like how I imagine a tent revival might feel, on a good night.

What fascinates me is that this isn’t about a shared object of faith–in this case I’m not even sure what that would be–music? I don’t worship Springsteen. He’s not an object. Though the line feels blurry sometimes, I guess.

But no, I’m talking about the feeling created when a charismatic leader somehow channels the energy in a room, draws all the people into a common experience. With powerful words or music or some other form of communication. Indicates to the crowd that there is something greater than the individual. And everyone buys in and cries or holds hands or falls on the floor, speaking on tongues.

Generally, devotion like that freaks me out. Big time.

But last night was so real, so good, so genuine. And maybe partly that was because it was not in the service of an object of faith. There was no sense of, “Here, now that I have you all under my spell–put your money in the basket/ vote for a candidate/ follow me.”

It was sort of the opposite. In the absence of a message, my crazed energy had nowhere to go but back into me. I left the concert shaky, feeling supercharged. Feeling like–if someone could be that amazing, that powerful, that brilliant, that energized… maybe I should be trying harder in my own life. Doing more. Living a little harder. It made me want to go for a run, cook a huge meal for a ton of people, stay up all night. Only I was tired (and 38) so I ended up going to bed.

But then, when I woke up, and looked into my normal work-day, it didn’t feel the same. I was haunted by this lingering sense from last night– that I just want to make better art. Suddenly all the obnoxious parts of my author-brain feel wiped clean. Worrying about the fact that some of my books aren’t good enough… or that some of them aren’t selling well. Blah blah blah.

No, no. That’s not what art is. Art is when you put some ideas or sounds or words or colors together, and they add up to more than they did before, or they make something new, and they touch people, teach people, maybe even make people cry in public.

It’s like I have this little bit of Bruce, this shard of light I found at the concert last night. I’m carrying it in my pocket, and I need to use it, to drive myself, make myself more true to whatever it is I’m doing.

So I’m typing this now, and I’m going to post it right away. For fear that I’ll lose this afterglow, this crazy feeling, and become self-aware again, embarrassed of having felt something this big and sloppy and youthful and joyous. I’m going to use this post, I think, to remind myself, later… what life can be.

Out in the world, there is a 62 year old man walking around, who can sing his heart out for 3 hours, race around on a stage, throw himself bodily into a sea of people, make goofy faces and shout anthems… and inspire those people to be better versions of themselves, to be more happy, generous, creative, kind… He is out there, running full steam at the world, believing in shit, continuing to try. And writing words that make at least one person weep.

What did you do last night?

67 Responses to “On being a serious fan…”

  1. Terri D. Says:

    I get it.

    Lovely post; thanks.

  2. Mitch Kloorfain Says:

    I can’t not love the story of a convert. Welcome to a new avenue of understanding. Enjoy the ride!

  3. Diane Wilkes Says:

    This had me in tears…and I’ve seen more than one show in my time. That’s how it should be, every night isf, or don’t take up the seat for a more serious fan. Laurel Snyder, maybe your shard of Bruce helped you nail it. Because you did. Sharp and sweet.

  4. Debbie Says:

    You made me cry. This is what he’s been doing for me for 35 years…

  5. Writers Dig The Boss « Under An Outlaw Moon Says:

    [...] There was at least one other local writer there last night, Laurel Snyder (and thank you, Laurel, for so enthusiastically celebrating my birthday!). She is a huge fan, and has written her own blog post about the experience that is a lot better than the one you’re reading, so you should check it out here. [...]

  6. chris barber Says:

    How beautifully said. He does indeed inspire. Thank you!

  7. Marile Says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! If everything works out, I will see Bruce for the first time in the UK towards the end of June. Having survived that, I will read this post again. And understand.
    No … I understand already.

  8. Geralyn Gray Says:

    Just wanted to let you know I have seen Bruce many times and agree with everything you said…..I feel the same way. I also was listening to Wrecking Ball and trying to figure out how I am going to see him locally since the shows are sold out……and my eyes keep welling up everytime I listen to Wrecking Ball and my biggest fear is crying in public…….Enjoy his energetic burst of sunshine you have witnessed and have faith that those memories will live on forever and you will have all those good feelings to carry you through anything!!!!!

  9. Mary Caulfield Says:

    I had seen Bruce in 1978 and found him as you say. But then life overwhelmed me, almost twenty years passed. And when I returned to him, I wept. I wept and wept and wept. I stood with my arms raised up and out for most of the concert, allowing him to bless me with the love he was channeling, sopping up as much as I can. But it wasn’t until the Rising tour that I realized he has become a priest. A priest in the church of faithful humanity, who all know, deep down beneath all the fear and pain, that we come from love, are made of love and will return to it eventually. Personally, I call him St. Bruce, because he brings healing to the masses, miracles happen.

  10. Debbi lakritz Says:

    Laurel, I spotted you briefly in line waiting for the # to be called. I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to say hi. When you get the chance. Watch and listen to some of his interviews where he talks a out writing and the creative pro ess. I can send you links if you’d like.

  11. John K. Says:

    Last night I spent two and a half hours listening to a cell phone call at the concert being streamed on the internet. The sound quality was terrible, but that didn’t matter, because there is no cure for addiction.

  12. Cecilia W Says:

    Welcome to our world, it’s why we do this time and again. After his first concert, my son said to me, “I get it mom, you’re not such a freak after all.” Thanks for sharing your experience, makes me smile and think fondly of my first show….and the next one :)

  13. Tim Byrd Says:

    An awesome post, Laurel. Glad you got to see him.

    You not only got a mention on my blog post about the show (http://wp.me/pkw1G-1cf), you reminded me of what I wrote in another post (http://wp.me/pkw1G-gx) after seeing Springsteen in 2009:

    “Watching Springsteen at the top of his game (and I think he’s been at his peak for thirty-five or forty years now) isn’t just fun, it’s inspiring. He shows you the sheer potential coiled in human brain and muscle and bone and reminds you how wonderful living can be. It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive…”

  14. cnb Says:

    Wow, I cried reading this, too. I relate to what you say on several levels. And I’ll soon get to see him in concert. Now looking forward all the more…

  15. david e Says:

    mazel tov on finally seeing bruce. sad you never got to see the full e-street band — no danny, no clarence. the boss and the big man, there was a crazy brotherly love there that totally translated on stage (saw them for “the river” tour) and if you could have seen that as well, then, well, then it might have dipped into the religious experience.

    there are musicians, singers and songwriters, but the rare ones are the performers who are, in essence, modern day shaman. we can debate who else is in that club, but i think bruce is there without a doubt.

  16. Becky Says:

    Welcome to the fold of those of us for whom seeing Bruce perform live isn’t just an event, it’s a part of life. A part of life that we need to thrive. That dose of Springsteen every few years buoys us, and gives us memories. I was a Bruce fan all through high school in the late 70′s and early 80′s, and didn’t score tickets to a show until 2002. I had been through some heavy changes in my life in the year prior to that show and had fought my way back to my “self.” The tears started welling the second the lights went down and the opening chords of “Badlands” rang out. By the time he sang, “it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive,” I was weeping. It was one of the most transcendent moments of my life that involved music. That lyric, in that moment, summed up everything I felt, and I was triumphant. I’ve seen him 5 times since then, and I will see him next Monday in DC. He’s played “Badlands” every time I’ve seen him, and I am giddy waiting for that lyric. I will cry again, no doubt.

  17. laurel Says:

    Oh, yes. Yeah.

    My sister will be there, in DC. I’ll wish for Badlands for you!

  18. laurel Says:

    I want to thank everyone for these comments. I’ve been in a daze all day.

  19. linda Says:

    Existential communitas, Victor Turner called it…check out Finding Grace in the Concert Hall on amazon…there’s a whole community of us! Love your experience – welcome!

  20. billhudson Says:

    Thanks Laurel for letting out your feelings and yes Bruce is a cool guy and puts his all into every drop of sweat he lets out.
    When we had the Clearwater festival the 1st time at Asbury Park he showed up and played a great set. He even asked us musicians to join him onstage to sing his song,Blinded by the Light. It was a very different version and we all had a ball.
    He is keeping I think the spirit of Pete Seeger in all of us.

  21. Anne Haines Says:

    Oh Laurel! I could say so much about this but: YES. YES YES YES YES YES. That is all. <3

  22. Terra Elan McVoy Says:

    Hey, lady. I am right with you here, and then some. For me it was also amazing and inspiring and astonishing how GENEROUS he was with himself. This is one of the biggest icons of rock; total Hall of Fame all the way and everything. And he was so SWEET to everyone, and made sure to share himself as much as possible. No ego at all. Also, your enthusiasm is LOVELY not embarrassing.

  23. Heather England Says:

    I was smiling, crying, and nodding my head vigorously throughout this entire post because I felt exactly the same at my first Springsteen concert, also at age 38. You’re an amazing writer and I’m ecstatic you pinpointed this experience so accurately and immediately afterward, not only for you, but for me and everyone else who isn’t good at capturing the feelings with words. Now we can re-read this and go back to those magical moments so thanks for that gift.

  24. Judith Jones Says:

    Really happy for you, and thanks so much for sharing this! My first time was back in 1984 and it never gets old, but it’s always wonderful to share someone else’s first experience.

  25. Laura Says:

    i SO get it!! tears in my eyes. you described that unreal feeling so well. this is exactly how i felt after my first springsteen concert in ’09. don’t worry– you’ll never lose that little piece of bruce you receive after your first show. it will stay with you: sometimes it will seem far away, but you can always reflect on the inspiration this feeling gave you, and how magical this night was, and it will come right back. don’t know how many times i’ve thought back to november 11, 2009 since it happened but it has been a lot. i am seeing him (him!) next month and it occupies every other thought. i am dying for this feeling again. it’s the best feeling in the world…that transformed feeling the next day is just impossible to anyone who hasn’t experienced it before and yes, you do feel sorry for those who haven’t. ah, beautiful. thanks for this post.

  26. Susan Says:

    Awesome post. You’ve captured a lot of what I am sure many feel either after their first show or 50th! Susan

  27. John Masi, London Says:

    Welcome to The House of Love, and as they say, better late than never. Imagine that!

  28. Michele Watson Says:

    That was lovely, thank you. You really nailed it!

  29. BruceFunds Says:

    This is why we do what we do…so glad to share in the communion!

  30. Maria H. Says:

    Thank you for putting into words what has been in my head since I first saw him in 1984. I was 15 and I remember thinking, “This will NOT be my last Springsteen concert I attend.” It wasn’t. I’ve seen him many times since. Each time gets better and better. I saw him last week in Austin at the Keynote and at the concert. I am blessed. I will see him again in DC. The tears will flow for sure when I take my kids with me to their first concert.

  31. Matt Phelan Says:

    This is important.

  32. madelyn Says:

    So glad you wrote about this! I was hoping you would!!!

  33. Megan Says:

    This may be a long response, but – i don’t care!
    Found this from Blogness on FB and I’m glad I did. My brother & I (4 years apart) grew up listening to Springsteen because our dad is a die-hard fan. He’s seen him over 15 times. But I can’t say we liked him our whole life. I was probably 18 when I started to appreciate Bruce Springsteen & looking back now, I guess it’s better late than never.

    In 2005, when Springsteen did his solo tour, my dad got 2 tickets for him & my brother (I was away at college). I was able to fly home somehow, so dad bought one more ticket. He gave us the 2 tickets together and he sat elsewhere. We were 4th row, dead center watching the man we had grown up listening to for close to 2 decades at the time. I remember looking at my brother & thinking “holy shit. this is bruce springsteen.” (hey I was 19 at the time, I wasn’t the most eloquent!) It was so surreal to grow up listening to a band (whether we liked it or not at the time) and then finally seeing that man in person, maybe 20 ft. away. I remember my dad telling us later that watching us see Bruce for the first time made him cry.

    While that was a great experience, my next two concerts are my favorite. Our first time seeing Springsteen & the E Street Band was for my birthday in 2008 in Richmond, VA. I made a sign saying “Bruce it’s my birthday, play 10th Ave!” – that’s me and my dad’s song. He used to dance around the house with me on his hip, both of us in matching bandanas. Our seats were in a media press box of sorts on the balcony, so there was no way he could see my sign. But what did he open that show with? 10th. Avenue. Tears started streaming down my face & I remember my dad pointing to me “It’s your song Meg!!” Unreal. My brother & I’s first time seeing Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band -unforgettable.

    The last time we all saw Bruce & crew was in 2009 IN Giants Stadium, ON my dad’s birthday, on the LAST show he played there. We joked my dad could die the next day and be completely happy. My dad & I are Giants fans also, but to see him with fellow New Jersey-ans, it was incredible. One of my dad’s main goals in life is to see Springsteen w/ his kids as many times as possible. We are so making that happen (:

    I live in FL & he’s coming down this weekend so we can see him in Tampa. My brother couldn’t make it but maybe we’ll call him during the show. There will be an even bigger hole that night – The Big Man. I’ve heard Jake puts on a killer show (both dad & brother live in Virginia & went to the tribute in January) w/ the band, so I’m not at all worried – but my favorite song won’t ever be the same.

    Thank you for writing this so well about one of my favorite people of all time. It’s hard to talk about it with others that just don’t “get it.” It’s almost as if the conversation stops because I can’t go on talking the way I do about Bruce. I can’t WAIT to be with “my people” and cup my hands around my mouth when the lights go down & yell, “BRUUUUUUUUUUCE!!!!!!”

  34. Leslie Fine Says:

    Laurel… Beautifully said…and don’t worry, you’ll keep that same feeling through your 10th…and 110th show…and even if you never see another show. I took a friend to her first Bruce show in 2000. It was so cool to watch her “get it”.

  35. Linda B Says:

    Beautiful! Welcome to the club! :D

  36. Ali Green Says:

    Read your blog as recommended on FB by a Springsteen fanatic friend. Haved listened to Bruce for years, left him during the ’80s when EVERYONE liked him, came back when he broke up the band. As much as I like him, I am always on the fence about going to see him when he tours – I think, not this time – I am not spending the money, the time, having my heart broke again with either no ticket or no pit access and stuck in the back of GA –

    and then I break; I go to one show, and then another – and if lucky, another – and its alway exhilerating and the best experience of my life!

    thanks for reminding me – off to look for tix……

  37. Sara Deutsch Says:

    Amen Sistah. Welcome to the Traveling Church of Bruce and the E Street Band cominng to a venue near you soon. Wear your waterproof mascara, plenty of deodorant and your best, most comfortable dancing shoes as you will be transported. Crying, sobbing, moments of ecstasy and rejoicing abound. You will return emotionally drained and on a high you can’t quite describe. THAT is the Bruce experience, when it’s done right as you’ve described.

  38. msf Says:

    I’ve tried for years to explain to people that Springsteen shows are not like other shows, but I think until you go to see one, I sound like a crazy person. There’s something about the power he has over the room that’s extraordinary. It all started with my brother’s obsession, and now my parents are in on it, too. Never thought I’d see them become groupies. Hilarious.

  39. Ryan Says:

    Great post. I totally understand/relate to the sentiments you shared. I cannot even count how many times Bruce’s music has brought me to tears.

  40. Dave Says:

    Timing is everything…

    I linked to your column from backstreets.com, and as I sit here and write my comments, my ipod plays alongside me in shuffle mode. Over 8000 songs by many different artists. And just as I begin to type, song #4102 comes up in the rotation: Thunder Road. Really.

    Your post was very-well written. I give you kudos for allowing yourself to get carried away at the concert. I have seen Bruce 10 times since 1984, and will experience #11 on April 13th in Buffalo (the 13th show of the tour on Friday the 13th? Spoooooky.)

    I too have left his concert emotionally drained and physically exhausted. I expect the Buffalo show will bring more of the same, since by some miracle of miracles I managed to make it through the disaster that was the first-day online sale and somehow scored two lower level seats right next to the stage. With the exception of being at the front of the pit I don’t think I can get any closer. The fact that I will be THAT close, and having my son along for the ride (whom I took to his first concert ever in 2009 to see…you guesed it), I already imagine my emotions getting the best of me.

    Well done Laurel. Your post speaks to me.

  41. Mike McGowan Says:

    Great story :)

    I actually had a tear in my eye reading it and all the comments, welcome to our world. I actually feel sorry for people who don’t ‘get’ him, because they’re missing out on so much. In my eyes he’s the greatest musician that’s ever lived. He’s Elvis, Dylan and The Beatles all rolled into one, a true legend in every sense of the word.

    And remember, “it aint no sin to be glad that you’re alive”


  42. Jack Lee Dean Says:

    When I read your last paragraph I was almost crying myself. My eyes did get moist and I choked up. I’ve never seen Bruce, I’m more of a Dead Head, but I knew what you were talking about just from the way you wrote. Thank you.

  43. NicNac13c Says:

    Yes I totally get this. I saw Bruce for the first time in Tampa in 2009 and I WISH I could go see him on the 23rd when he comes back but Tampa’s too far and the money’s tight. I also felt this when I saw Macca in 2010 in Miami. Front of the pit for Bruce, upper tier cheap seats for Macca but let me tell you, that energy of being in the same place hit me deep.

  44. Joanne Says:

    Wonderful post, Laurel. I first saw Bruce in 1984; I have seen him 10 times. Each time has been amazing.

  45. ejw Says:

    Laurel –
    A lovely piece of prose! (And I understand why having gone to that “About” page to learn more about you).

    To me, there’s this combination of pure passion and purpose wedded to hard, hard work and teamwork (Bruce, the band, the crew) wedded to a crazy perfectionist work ethic that makes the shows work so well and THEN makes you go home somehow more idealistic, more committed, more in search of that level of experience and quality in what you do.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this so beautifully and giving voice to what so many of us feel.

  46. Jo Says:

    You nailed it, and so eloquently. Thank you so much. “For the ones who had a notion….”

  47. jeff Says:

    I first discovered Bruce via WXRT radio Chicago in 1979. They had played Born to Run, as they had back in 75 when I still had my head in “the stars” of the Stones / Pink Floyd and Neil Young…yeah me and my lava lamp, my bedroom, my loneliness and escape. Something in that record stuck with me as I strolled through the album bins at my local Sears store when I came across this homely face on the cover of Darkness on the Edge of Town. T-shirt, pimple pocked face, messed up hair, your grandparents wall paper and eyes that were as deep as the damn well that I felt my life was looking up from. In a nutshell…I devoured Darkness, then bought BTR and played it every day as if my life depended on it – repeat – everyday, cuz my life depended on it. Now when I was that kid back then, I felt the music doing something to me, something powerfull. Different than anything before, a connection, an awakening of my own confused emotions, another soul speaking from his dark places / his deeper self / his true self. This guy was able to express it, and that floored me. From the Jersey shore to the west side of Chicago came an acknowledgment of a kindred soul who had felt fear and joy crashing into each other as a young man and was determined to make sense of that duality.
    I’ve seen Bruce 17 times, with the ESB and solo, not any record for sure. Back during the Magic tour I drove 13 hours to meet a friend who had flown down from Montana to Nashville. We took in Nashville, St. Louis and Kansas City…3 shows in 5 days. That trip was the most magical time of my life. We made it into the pit twice and got on the rail in KC but the thing that sticks with me is the in between times we shared on the trip. The mornings at Starbucks in all 3 cities talking about the shows, the quite understanding of what this Bruce thing is all about, the look in the eyes of all those we got to know as we sat in the pit waiting for the lights to go down. Did I fist pump during Badlands…yes. Did I cry during Sandy…yes. Did I spill my guts to her and the young couple that sat behind us on the last train out after midnight in St.Louis…yes.
    The feelings that I’ve had surounding Bruce have ranged from deep reflection to sheer exuberance and have changed from seemingly temporary emotions to manifestations of my true self. And to close, feeling in tune with your true inner self, surrounded by 19,000 others in a similiar state is what I would define as…nirvana.
    Thanks for your words Laurel, glad I could add mine.
    “You could hear the whole damn city crying.”

  48. DeLaine Says:

    Thanks for saying what I felt my first time ’88 Tunnel of Love, and then again last night in the pit for Greensboro. My Bruce buddy Carey could not be there with me last night. But she bought a ticket for me since I’ve been down on my luck for the past year. Lost my Job, Lost my Home, Lost my Money, Lost my Faith, * needed * Wrecking Ball. That’s exactly what my sign said last night, Bruce read it and smiled at me. Carey also mailed me the CD two weeks before the show. It was hard to read the lyrics thru the tears. I felt like Bruce had somehow known exactly what I was going thru right now at this moment. Hard times come and hard times go and hard times come. Maybe Bruce will read this post because I would like to request his help for my friend Carey. She is a huge fan & has seen more shows than I have over the years. She ‘gets’ Bruce and she ‘gets’ me. But at a show in Charlottesville (2009) I ran into Bruce on the elevator of our hotel while Carey was parking her car. I’ve wanted to make that up to her somehow since it happened. I tried to pass a note to Bruce last night, I even stood beside his daughter Jessica at the show. But couldn’t pass the note to either one of them. I know Bruce donates to local hunger causes. Carey runs the Coalition Against Hunger in Philly and lost funding recently. She’ll be at the show in Philly on Mar. 28th and it would be so nice if Bruce could do something special for her since she does so many special things for the people in her life. As Bruce says: We Take Care of Our Own, and Carey is one ‘of us’. Programs
    like SNAP have to be there for people during difficult times. Thank God for food stamps or my Mom and I would be going to bed hungry at night. We are also blessed to have family that has taken us in until we can get back on our feet. So this Bruce show had extra meaning for me: I laughed, I cried, I shared my stories with other fans, I left feeling inspired and exhausted. You never know when hard times are going to strike, but sometimes you just get lucky and have great friends like Bruce and Carey to help you thru them. Thanks ; )

  49. laurel Says:

    These comments– essays in themselves– are all so very powerful to read. As amazing as Bruce is, THIS is the other thing, equally powerful– the pulling people together, and then pushing them to live a little bit MORE.

    I was struck by it at the show, and I’m struck by it again, now. Thank you all for commenting here, for sharing your stories. For sharing this experience with me.

  50. Erin Says:

    Beautifully written. You capture all the emotions I had the first time I saw Bruce all those years ago, and the ones I still feel today when I see him. The power of his music and live shows, and his ability to bring his audience to someplace better together is a huge gift to us all. As we get older, it’s not always that easy to find those big, sloppy, youthful and joyous emotions that you write about. So happy for you to have experienced these in such a wonderful way!

  51. Roger C Says:


    Very nice post and congratulations, you have allowed the genuine authenticity that is Bruce Springsteen’s gift into your creative heart. I attended my first Bruce show on August 21st 1978. I was 16 years old. I went with absolutely no expectations, I was just a kid tagging along with friends for just another night out. I entered Madison Square Garden with my eyes and ears shut and I left with them wide open. It was the very first time I witnessed anyone doing what they were born to do and completely aware of what they were doing. Coming from a working class family and always feeling a sense monotonous meritocracy I was literally rocked off of my foundation and dare I say it…Born again. Born again to the fact that I had a voice and I could make a difference and that my life had purpose. That’s what you and I and others that can’t quite find the words to describe what they experienced feel. A sense of being alive. Being authentic. You don’t have a little piece of Bruce in your pocket, you have discovered your own light….let it shine.

  52. Roger C Says:

    Lesson of the day – When you intend to use the word Mediocrity don’t display mediocre writing skills and use the word meritocracy. Spell check is no excuse. :-)

  53. Kim Says:

    SO, first thanks for the courage to write this and share the wake up. Its totally what I needed today, and to remember every day. LIVE JUICY….. I keep forgetting!

  54. bill mahoney Says:

    terrific. welcome to my experience in 1980 the day after john lennon was shot. you hit the nail on the head, it’s the community. have been chasing the feeling since that time.

  55. Dani Strand Says:

    Hi I am so so happy you got to experience BRUCE live . I often still cry it is very overpowering the feelings and the words with the music and there you are with people who mostly are experiencing what you are…..I been going to see BRuce since I was 17 I am now approaching 60 in a month. its has been the best love affair I could ever have. He has not once disappointed me. I hope you will enjoy more and that your after glow will continue…..GOD Bless……..Dani

  56. estreet4ever Says:

    Lovely, elegantly written, and right on. I really can’t imagine a life without Bruce. He has been the soundtrack of my life since I was seventeen as well. He helped me deal with the loss of my parents and some friends, given me ecstatic joy, and brought me to tears more times than I can count.

    I read “Songs” like someone would read the bible. In fact, I was putting post-it notes on some songs I hadn’t read for a while. There’s a Bruce quote from a long time ago–thirty years or more–that I have always loved. I can’t recite it directly but I’ll paraphrase. “I’ll stop playing music the day I look into the audience and don’t see myself, or the day the audience looks at me and doesn’t seem themselves too.”

    I hope you get to see lots more shows. #s 170, 171, and 172 coming up next month in California.

  57. Sandy Says:

    I hear you Laurel. Iv’e been carrying that shard of light in my pocket also since 1969. It’s big enough to light up the world. Than you for a lovely piece.

  58. beatlerod Says:

    Thanks Laurel. You made my day!

    Keep sharing!

  59. Victoria Says:

    Laurel, I had such a similar experience when I saw Van Morrison at the Ryman, with my sister. It truly felt the church it is and my sister and I were both crying in public. I’m glad you finally got to see Bruce.

  60. Taffy Says:

    I’ve never read something so moving or so accurate as this blog. Welcome to the wonderful world of Bruce!

  61. Ann Says:

    I sign every word you said – and then some. I´ve seen him more than once but won´t be able to this year (which is awful). Anyway, my first time was in 85, my last time was in 09 – 25 years in between but that didn´t matter at all. No matter how much my life changed in those years, Bruce´s music was the constant factor. Other artists came and went, but Bruce – well, stayed if you know what I mean. And yes, I wept, too. Apart from the fact that I´m happy to be in the same country as he, let alone in the same “room”, he had me weeping too. Last time. The River. OMG. The River was my first Bruce album but I never heard and saw him play the song in the “Original” version. In ´09 I did and he did and it totally caught me off guard. The hubby was shocked, asking me if something was wrong before he realized why I cried and hugged me.

    So Laurel – thank you! I´m with you all the way and I hope you will keep this experience in your heart for a very, very long time, like I did and do!

  62. jone Says:

    I get it. I saw Rod Stewart in Phoenix. Wasn’t planning to but it happened and it was tear amazing! I think I have to see Bruce.

  63. It’s Tuesday, I’m in Love « Sarky Tartlet Says:

    [...] Bruce Springsteen concerts. Laurel Snyder’s blog post, “On being a serious fan…” sums it up [...]

  64. Michele Says:

    Bruce’s lyrics run through my veins, his music is the soundtrack to my life and his concerts allow me to dance, sing, cry, and transcend the oneness. Have been a fan since the mid 70′s and have lost track of how many times I’ve seen him in concert, but it can never be enough. I don’t even understand the depths of it, but I do know that every time my voice joins with his and everyone else’s, I am pure spirit and all is right with the world.

  65. Michele Says:

    Bruce’s lyrics run through my veins, his music is the soundtrack to my life and his concerts allow me to dance, sing, cry, and transcend the oneness. Have been a fan since the mid 70′s and have lost track of how many times I’ve seen him in concert, but it can never be enough. I don’t even understand the depths of it, but I do know that every time my voice joins with his and everyone else’s, I am pure spirit and all is right with the world.

  66. ELKA Says:

    .. And in Detroit his promise was kept..He gave the audience a friendly warning at the beginning of the concert — or a promise, depending on your view — “Tomorrow, you will wake up sore, your back will hurt, your sexual organs will be stimulated, and you’ll say, ‘But I was just standing there!’” Great post and keep the faith!

  67. BruceFunds Says:

    Laurel, I would like to use this quote in my symposium presentation: “It’s like I have this little bit of Bruce, this shard of light I found at the concert last night. I’m carrying it in my pocket, and I need to use it, to drive myself, make myself more true to whatever it is I’m doing.” Credit would be given to Laurel Snyder. Please let me know via email if that would be acceptable. Thank you.

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