Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Growin Up

You can hide 'neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
- Thunder Road, Born To Run, 1975

  • In the summer of 1975 I didn't give a damn about Bruce Springsteen. Eleven years old, I was awestruck by Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, Carl Yastremski and Luis Tiant and Carlton Fisk. The Red Sox were my whole world, and I was one of the lucky (cursed?) few in Fenway for the 7th game of the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, waiting for a savior that never came.

    Since then, Red Sox Nation has spent 28 summers praying in vain, a love unrequited. Now, there are Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey. Bruce Springsteen is going to play Fenway Park.

    I didn't get much into music until about 1979. It was a fun time to be a kid exploring the radio dial, hippie music was still everywhere, disco was booming and busting, punk was sparking and roaring (this is where my wife, six years younger, rolls her eyes). I remember being devastated riding home from New Hampshire in the backseat of our stationwagon with my sister, after she told me that Jimi Hendrix was dead. I remember buying the Clash's double album London Calling in the Harvard Square Coop for six dollars. Springsteen's music had already become anthemic, and it didn't speak to me. Most of what I knew and liked about him was his appearances on albums by other artists I did enjoy, Patti Smith, Graham Parker, and Lou Reed. And his fans used to piss me off. Once I was talking to a fellow co-worker at Dominoes about my record collection, and he asked me what I had of Springsteen's. When I told him I didn't have any Bruce Springsteen albums, he said "Then you have nothing."

    With a chance to make it good somehow
    Hey what else can we do now
    - Thunder Road, Born To Run, 1975

  • Well, I've made my peace with Bruce. I've always enjoyed songwriters, and I eventually had to give credit where it was due. I began to realize that if I added up all of the Springsteen songs that I thought were incredible, it would fill about four cds. So I've bought some of the early albums at yard sales, went to see him in the Fleet Center a few years ago, but still haven't bought a cd.

    roll down the window
    And let the wind blow back your hair
    - Thunder Road, Born To Run, 1975

  • So what does Springsteen playing Fenway mean? Depends who you ask. For him and his fans, it's a novelty. For his lunatic fans, its a historic moment. For Kenmore Square, it's a madhouse. Just how many people do you think will be out in the street
  • behind the Wall?

    For the Sox though, it is many things, a tremendous opportunity, a threat to park maintenance, and dangerous ground. Let's take those one at a time.

    1. Opportunity - This deal and deals like these, could be huge moneymakers for the Sox. Most of us Sox fans have just assumed that with Pedro, Nomar, Derek Lowe, and Jason Varitek's contracts coming up after next season, that two of them could be gone. But this changes the equation a little bit.

    2. The Park - The plan right now is to put the stage in center, with seats on the outfield grass and the dirt. I think the Sox have underestimated this aspect of the event. They are counting on the crowd being done growin up, and proceeding orderly to their seats. But like I said, this is an event, and a concert, not a recital or a ballgame. If I'm in the crowd without my wife, I'm on that field.

    3. Dangerous Ground - Allowing Springsteen because he is now safe opens up the same hornet's nest that they ran into in Foxboro. A decade ago or more, the town of Foxboro voted to not allow Michael Jackson to play in the football stadium, out of fear of the type of crowd that might turn up. Never mind that the building was usually full of drunken football fans, the Rolling Stones had just played there the year before. These owners want to steer as far away from race issues as possible, but as soon as they turn down an act that is perceived to have an African-American or Hispanic audience, the question is going to come up.. Are the Sox afraid of young people, or minorities? The Sox don't want to be any part of that.

    So it is good thing? Well, if I can get a ticket, and the Sox resign Nomar and Pedro, Hell Yeah!

    I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd but when they said "Sit down" I stood up.
    Ooh-ooh growin' up
    - Growin Up, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., 1973


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