Calling all Bruce fans!

Posted: April 22, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Albany will mark my 20th Springsteen show. I’ve seen every full-band tour since my first show in 1978 at RPI.

When you go to a Springsteen show, it is common to meet people who have seen Bruce hundreds of times and have hundreds of bootlegs.

I haven’t kept pace and never had the extra cash to travel to shows. But I have this blog and I’ll put my memorabilia up against anyone (see my basement below).  I’m sure there are many, many people out there who, when they hear a song by Bruce, they think of me. That warms my heart in some strange way.

The Times Union in Albany, where I’m a news editor, wants to do a report about Springsteen fans for publication. The story will appear in our Preview magazine on May 8. Your basement doesn’t have to look like mine to participate…

Bruce and the band are back in town on the 13th.  Follow the link in this blog post:

 

The Bassett basement

My basement when I had the urge to drag everything (well, almost everything) out to photograph it.

 

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(Editor’s Note: My 26-year-old niece Amanda drove 9 1/2 hours by herself to witness Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform on Tuesday, April 15, 2014,  in Columbus, Ohio. It was her ninth show. She is a Special Education teacher in the Guilderland School District and the tickets were a gift to herself for her birthday next week. At first I was upset I didn’t just blow off work and buy one of her extra tickets, but after reading her story I realized her dream wouldn’t have come true if I joined her. I feel better now … I love you and I’m so happy for you!)

By Amanda Bassett

It was Holy Week, and Bruce didn’t fail to provide a religious experience. The nine-and-a-half-hour drive to Columbus, Ohio, was filled with corn and farm land, but as soon as I arrived I forgot all about the long haul. Music was being piped into the somewhat “Stepford Wives”-like planned Nationwide Arena District, and in anticipation of the concert the music was mainly the featured artist of the day: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. No complaints from me there!

I firmly place my good concert position on Bruce karma; I had two extra tickets that I practically gave away to a guy and his buddy who wanted to attend. I told them “Just make sure you love the show.”  Then we all lined up outside in the cold according to our numbers. My wristband was 88. I had gone early in the day to get my wristband and I decided 88 was a good number to have because it’s my birth year. When it was time to draw 790 was called and they let everyone up to 111 in the front pit, I barely made it in. (We guessed about 1,000 people got wristbands, so those 790-1,000 got in, then 1-111.) So the guys  I gave the tickets to and I were in!

At that point it was the goodwill of fellow fans that got me to the front row center. I could touch the center mic. People were impressed I had driven 9 1/2 hours by myself to see the Boss. It also helps that I didn’t block anybody by being up front! (From small things mamma…). As the first chords of “High Hopes” rang out I knew this was going to be like no concert I had ever attended.

Sure enough Bruce crowd surfed during “Hungry Heart,” and I along with the crush of humanity around me passed him onto stage.  Grateful we didn’t drop him, I was wildly unprepared for the experience of turning around and having him laying inches from my face. I thought at that moment I could die happily. Thank god I didn’t and that I stuck around for the rest of the show.

The highlight for me had to be “The River.” A disclaimer … this song gets me crying in the car, so when the harmonica hit it was all over. This was one of my parents’ favorite songs and it always reminds me of them. They got me hooked on Bruce with this song, and I owe them everything for that. When my mother passed away a year ago after battling cancer, the song took on a whole new meaning. Bruce  sang it perfectly and he walked up to the front of the stage. I will never forget this moment: after he sang the line “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true? Or it something worse?” He reached out and grabbed my hand for the next two lines. It was surreal, and after the song was over the”Brucebuds” around me congratulated me,  as if I did anything except stand there tearing up while holding Bruce’s hand!

The rest of the show was just as amazing, with many opportunities to high-five the Boss or put a hand on his boots. I can’t wait to download the live version of the concert so that I can hear my contribution to the guitar-playing during “Born to Run!” (Well, me and about ten other people!)  I’m still pinching myself to make sure that I really was staring straight up as he sang at the front mic. I couldn’t even take a ton of videos or  photos; I wanted to make sure I was taking it all in and was really immersed in the atmosphere.

Some of the many highlights were “Trapped,” “Prove it All Night” with the 78 intro, and “Bobby Jean.” I’m a Tom Morello fan, so I loved “Tom Joad” and Morello’s solo work on the song. Despite Little Steven and Patti’s absence, the ESB was rocking as always. The two girls who sang “Sunny Day” were GOOD and they had Bruce pull their parents on stage.  In my mind, my parents were by my side too.

The countdown begins

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’m as excited for this as I was for the reunion tour. Going for general admission this time. I’m 5’0″  and with my 5’0″ niece, I’m sure #brucebuds will part the way. Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.43.00 AM We are thinking: try for Pittsburgh and Albany is a lock.

A letter to my concert buddy

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dear Jean: I am writing more letters  to family members and friends and not just relying on electronic communication (thanks for the inspiration Gaslight Anthem and Brian Fallon).

Jean, I felt like writing to you today and since you’re my Springsteen concert buddy, I’ll do it here on my blog. Today is Friday, my day off since I work Sundays. Fridays were our day. When you got sick and couldn’t go to work I was lucky to spend my Fridays with you. Obviously, hanging with you was a real joy and as a bonus it helped me avoid things like grocery shopping, housework, laundry, etc. (You often said housework  can wait until later.)

I thought of you when I went cross country skiing this morning in Kinns Road park. I remember driving to your house, picking you up and bringing you out here so you could check cross country skiing off your very long bucket list. I was so nervous … you had just recovered from breaking your arm playing soccer and I was petrified you would fall. You did, of course, and when I reach the little hill where you fell I always laugh just like we did that day.

You probably keep good tabs on Bruce from where you are, maybe even hanging out with Clarence and Danny. Right now we are anxiously awaiting a tour announcement and so I’m trading texts with Amanda and we’ll get that train rolling again. She subbed in admirably for her mom when you were too sick to go to Hartford with us on  “Wrecking Ball” concert #3. She will continue to do so. My daughter Sarah, who helped me form Team Jean at the Boston University Relay for Life, will most likely join us too, with Mike and John, of course. (Sarah is vice president of BU Relay and also is a regional coordinator for all the New England colleges. Her team and her ideas have helped raised thousands, we are so proud of her.)

Bruce’s new album concludes with a song called “Dream Baby Dream.” It often makes me cry when I listen to it and think of you. (I sing “Dream Baby Jean.”)  It is so YOU! If your kids did a “Jean Bassett Songs of Inspiration Volume 2″ this would be centerpiece song. Our concert foursome saw Bruce perform this live during the “Devils and Dust Tour” (July 2005) in Albany. It was the final song of the night and a cover originally performed and written by a punk band called “Suicide.” I never acquired the bootleg but now I’ll be adding that show to my collection.

I know you will be singing “Dream Baby Dream” to John and the kids. I just know it.

I said goodbye to my good friend and Springsteen concert buddy this week.  Jean Marie, you lived an incredible 49 years.

Here are just a few words from her obituary:

Originally diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2009, she was faced with a prognosis of having four months to live when cancer spread to her brain in October 2010. The prognosis only reinforced her stubborn determination to live life to its fullest and fill her days with sunshine and chocolate. She traveled as extensively and as often as her treatment allowed, including trips to Hawaii, St. Maarten and a wonderful trip to Lourdes as guests of the Knights of Malta. She saw a Bruce Springsteen concert whenever possible and Springsteen’s “No Surrender” and “Waiting on a Sunny Day” were just a few of the themes she preached on her amazing Caring Bridge website, called Focus on the Positive. The site name was from an inspiring quote from the late Benjamin Stowell, a Blue Creek student who “taught her how to cope” with cancer.

While writing the obituary for my sister-in-law Jean on a beautiful sunny day one week ago, I sent emails back and forth to her oldest daughter, Amanda, who also is a Springsteen fan. The Word document we exchanged between us and other family members we called “Jean Bassett rocks.” Her family played Springsteen music at a wonderful family gathering after the funeral service and her husband John mentioned Springsteen in his eulogy. He talked about one of my favorite Springsteen adventures with Jean. In the midst of chemo treatment, she arranged a road trip for us and our husbands to drive 4 hours to Buffalo and back to see Bruce Springsteen during the final show of the 2009 “Working on a Dream” tour.  It was Little Steven’s birthday. It was Clarence Clemons last full band performance. Bruce did the entire “Greetings from Asbury Park,” his first album. He sung “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” My favorite blurry Bruce concert photo is below, with a Santa hat covering up Jean’s “beautiful bald head” as her husband John called it.

buffalo_show

Her daughter Amanda and I have been texting each other back and forth for years when a “Springsteen moment” came up. You know what those are: When you travel and spot a Springsteen license plate; when you wish E Street Radio would play a song and it magically is on air while you are riding in the car; when your mom’s Hospice caregiver is named Shirley E. Street.

A Springsteen moment I experienced in the weeks leading up to her death came full circle as I struggled with questions of “why?” Her elementary school students and teachers created a wonderful basket of hand-painted stones and presented them to Jean a few weeks ago. On a regular basis I spent Fridays with Jean, and when I saw the basket at her house, a stone painted her favorite color teal jumped out at me. It  said “No Surrender. Springsteen.” Here is a photo.

Nosurrender

Jean did not surrender to this disease. Then why was she taken?

Our wonderful priest, Father Butler, admired a different stone in this rock garden which was brought to the church as part of her memorial. He brought it up to the altar, mentioned it in his homily, and laid it upon her casket. Also designed using in her favorite color teal, the message was Psalm 46:10 and it said:

“Be still Jean, and know that I am God.”

He explained this to the packed church of family, friends and her students gathered to celebrate her life:

To be “still,” he said, means to “surrender” yourself to God. We might not know the answers to all our questions about her death, but if we surrender to God, we can find peace and strength. On her final days, she surrendered. And that is glorious and it brings me peace.

See you further on down the road, my friend.

be_still

 

I purchased this  in the 80s … during the Reagan era … still valid today. Just remember everyone, the train carries fools and kings, be kind to those who differ with your views.

This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This Train
Carries whores and gamblers
This Train
Carries lost souls
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin’
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin’
This Train
Carries broken-hearted
This Train
Thieves and sweet souls departed
This Train
Carries fools and kings
This Train
All aboard

This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin’
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin’

 

Harry Potter and Bruce

Posted: October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Greasy Lake.org, the ultimate Springsteen fan site, tweeted this morning about a song Bruce wrote about Harry Potter. My daughter is 21 and she is a huge Harry Potter fan. A college student in Boston, she and friends last weekend took a trip to Salem, Mass., and browsing through a Harry Potter store was her favorite part.

Should I sneak into the art department of my office today to make a sign for the song tonight? We just ordered some new poster board … hmmm …

Springsteen: share the moments

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m attending my 18th concert Bruce Springsteen concert Thursday in Hartford, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Albany. (Once again, I’ll request “Drive All Night” since we will be greeted  by our dog Bruce when we get home just hours before my 17-year-old son gets up and goes to school. ) I luckily found 6 tickets yesterday via Ticketmaster behind the stage in second balcony, 4 rows up. I love behind the stage at small arenas.

The best thing about this show is sharing the Bruce experience with family. My sister-in-law is a new convert, this will be her second show. She is a elementary school teacher and said to me:

Sounds great! I could use an inspirational night at this point!

Another sister-in-law, who bought us last-minute tickets to the Buffalo “Greetings” show in 2010, also is joining us. She also needs an inspirational night for health reasons. I feel like someone at Christmastime who is more excited about the gifts they bought or made for others.

What surprises will Bruce have in store for us Thursday?

Here’s one of his latest surprises and the story behind it from Backstreets.com

TERRY’S SONG, AND SYDNEY’S TOO
After Bruce performed “Terry’s Song” last night in Hamilton by request — in memory of Sydney Wood — we received this letter today:

Hello,

I just wanted to give you some of the back story to the dedication of “Terry’s Song” that was performed last night in Hamilton.  My 11-year-old daughter Grace was good friends and a basketball teammate of Sydney’s, and as you can imagine Sydney’s sudden death has been something Grace has tried to understand. She thought about the message in “Terry’s Song” that love is a power greater than death, and so she decided that would be her sign. She would ask Bruce to sing “Terry’s Song”.

This was the fifth concert Grace has been to (what can I say, her Dad and I are fans) and I warned her that he has only played this song once before, but Grace was sure he would see the sign. This was the first time we were going to try to get into the pit; previously we had thought our girls were too little. We made it into the pit by 13 spots — 13 was Sydney’s soccer number. The last person in the pit was bracelet number 311 — 11 was Sydney’s basketball number. Grace’s faith that the Big Man, Terry, and Danny were all working some Magic seemed to be well founded. In the pit it was strangers who held her up and put her on their shoulders to get the sign to Bruce.

The first time Bruce collected signs he passed her by; undaunted, Grace held up her sign again and this time Bruce leaned over and took it. I explained that he might not play the song, but he read the sign, and that may be enough… however something magical happened, and Bruce told a story of friendship, love, and hope, and dedicated that song to Sydney. Grace at that moment was the picture of pure joy; joy that so many people now knew how loved Sydney is by her friends.

Last night as we tucked our excited but exhausted little girl into bed she looked up at us and said, “Sydney is smiling tonight!” Sydney and a whole lot of other people, thanks to Bruce’s kindness.  If you could pass on a message to him somehow that he has made a little girl’s grief at the loss of a friend a little lighter, knowing that love is a power greater than death, we would appreciate that very much.

Thank you,
Mary and Grace Mahler

Our profound pleasure.

- October 22, 2012

My review of MetLife 2

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

This is my original review, posted on timesunion.com Saturday, 9/22/12

The story also appeared in the Times Union print edition. I wrote a page A2 “People” item as well as a condensed version of the review below. It is archived here.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, MetLife stadium, NJ (09/21/12

By Joyce Bassett

Bruce Springsteen is celebrating his birthday this weekend with with three shows in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium. Friday’s set, the second of three shows, served up a “one for the ages” performance that will be tough to top during the grand finale Saturday, when the crowd-surfing ultimate rock performer turns 63 at midnight.

The betting line on Saturday’s performance at an 82,000-seat football stadium suggests he’ll top Friday’s show.

This week marked Springsteen’s first appearances at MetLife, which opened in 2010. He closed the former Giants stadium next door with five shows in 2009 during his “Working on a Dream” tour. He wrote a song for that special occasion, “Wrecking Ball,” that became the title track of his latest album.

His references to Jersey during Friday night’s show brought huge roars from the nearly sold-out  arena, with general admission ticket holders filling up the floor. He dipped back into his early albums and certainly felt right at home, introducing those songs with storytelling, a trademark of his early ’70s and ’80s shows. He explained “Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street?,” from his 1973 debut album, was written during a bus ride through uptown Manhattan. (It was also part of his demo for John Hammond of CBS Records which earned him a recording contract.)

The “Wrecking Ball” songs are still a core part of the tour’s stadium shows. The lyric’s reference to “the arena’s filled and Giants played their games”  at  the home field of the Super Bowl champs  provided a comparison to early shows on the tour, including the band’s April visit to Albany.

Seeing Bruce early in a tour and at arenas is like going to watch the Giants during spring training in Albany: arena shows are more intimate, the sound is terrific and the  atmosphere is subdued but often thrilling. At stadium shows, the sound isn’t as good, some seats are far, far away from the action — but the atmosphere is beyond-incredible.

In spring training, Giants players are starting a long journey on the road to reaching a Super Bowl. On tour, Springsteen builds on and perfects his setlist, building up to ultimate performances that showcase an entire tour, like Friday night in New Jersey.

And the big plays are bigger. At each Springsteen concert, you have your tour premieres and surprises.  In Albany, an acoustic rarity “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart” was the talk of Twitter during and after the show. The “Born in the USA” songs “Darlington County” and “Downbound Train” also made their debuts in Albany.

The tour premiers and rarities at “MetLife 2″ were nothing short of spectacular. “Living on the Edge of the World” as the opening song was “especially for New Jersey,” he said. It was the first time the tune (a B-side from 1980′s “The River” and a feature on his 1998 collection “Tracks”) was ever played live. Special guest Gary U.S. Bonds took the stage with a rousing cover of “Jole Blon” followed by “This Little Girl,” a one-two punch from Bonds’ 1981 album “Dedication,” which was co-produced by Springsteen and E Street guitarist Steven Van Zandt. The album also featured an all-star roster of musicians and vocalists, including the entire E Street Band as musicians, including the late Clarence Clemons on saxophone and the late Danny Federici on keyboards and accordion.

Another kind of dedication, the sort that flows to hometown fans,  was the theme of the night.  “Lost in the Flood,” also from Springsteen’s debut, showcased pianist Roy Bittan. It was Bittan who carried the band during the most powerful portion of the night, a full-band run-through “Incident on 57th Street”  that naturally led into “Rosalita,” just as it did on Springsteen’s sophomore album, “The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.” A rarely combined one-two shot, and a powerful conclusion of the main set.

The encores, which are almost like a second show, proved Springsteen was pacing himself for “MetLife 3.”  Bonds came back out for “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and “American Land” to close the show, complete with fireworks. Bruce ended the 3-hour, 9-minute performance (Wednesday’s concert clocked in at 3:46) by promising to bring back Bonds Saturday night, and I would expect a romping “Quarter to Three” to complete the trilogy.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

MetLife Stadium, New Jersey

Dates: Sept. 19, 21, 22

Highlight: “Incident on 57th Street” into “Rosalita,” finishing off the main set.

Drive All Night

Posted: September 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

My longshot request for tonight…since I’ll be doing this on the way home…