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Springsteen concert delights Jersey girl

December 02, 2007|By KATE COLEMAN

It is largely the fault of my friend and editor Jake Womer that I've been a little crazier than usual for the past few months.

Early in August he mentioned that regional public television stations were broadcasting "Live in Dublin," Bruce Springsteen's 2006 concert from Ireland.

Shortly thereafter, he e-mailed me news of the Oct. 2 release of "Magic," Springsteen's new album, his first with longtime New Jersey collaborators the E Street Band since 2002. Tour dates would be announced.

I watched the Dublin concert on a Friday night. I watched it again two nights later. I pledged a hefty donation to the station to qualify for the DVD because I just had to have it and share it with friends.

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The concert includes songs from "The Seeger Sessions," Springsteen's 2006 album, recorded with 17 musicians heartily playing horns, banjo, fiddles, penny whistle and singing 21st-century versions of iconic traditional tunes. Also featured are "radical interpretations from the Springsteen songbook," according to the package.

Jake is a veritable Springsteen scholar. He loaned me a few of his DVDs, including VH1's April 2005 "Storytellers" concert during which Springsteen played a few of his songs and talked about how he came to write them. It was recorded near my New Jersey hometown.

I will always be a Jersey girl. And, for the record, I am six months younger than Jersey boy Bruce. I was born in Long Branch, N.J., the town where he wrote most of the songs on his 1975 album, "Born to Run." I rode the amusements every summer at the Asbury Park boardwalk that Springsteen's songs inhabit. My dad played golf with the uncle of Patti Scialfa, now Springsteen's wife, every Wednesday, for goodness sake.

Still, I'm a bit of a Katie-come-lately in fully appreciating the Boss and his music. I was rocking babies when he was rocking out.

I love many kinds of music, but Springsteen's writing - varied and deep - amazes me. He can pen a catchy pop tune, but more often he's a poetic storyteller. The American characters and issues in his songs feel real. There is power and meaning in his music. It's not only rock 'n' roll.

My excitement about the band's Nov. 11 concert in Washington, D.C., spread to my friends, and Bill, Tom and Sally wanted to go. Thanks to Sally's and my need for wheelchairs - a rare benefit - I was able to score tickets for sweet seats at the Sunday show. Then, I loaned the Dublin DVD to my music-loving friend Chuck. He got psyched and wheedled box seats for himself and his wife, Lisa, from his restaurateur sister.

We gathered at my house for dinner the week before the show. We watched the Dublin concert and got excited together, whetting our appetites for the live performance.

I'd seen him in concert twice before, but I was really ready for this show.

Bruce and the band delighted the sold-out arena for two hours and 15 minutes. Thousands of smiling people stood and swayed and pumped their fists. I pumped and pounded my cane.

Springsteen's energy is boundless. He strides, he jumps - all while singing or playing harmonica and guitar. His joy in his work is palpable. He loves what he's doing and I love it, too.

In a 1988 video of an acoustic version of "Born to Run," Springsteen told his audience that in the years since he wrote the song he realized that individual freedom without connection "to some sort of community or friends or the world outside ends up feeling pretty meaningless." He said the guy and the girl in the song were looking for connection, and he guessed that was what he was doing in his concert that night.

He definitely found it Nov. 11.

Me, too.

I'm still smiling.

Kate Coleman writes a monthly Lifestyle column and covers the Maryland Symphony Orchestra for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via e-mail at katec@herald-mail.com.

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