I used to consider myself a huge Brice Springsteen fan. I have all the albums, know all the words and have seen him in concert about 10 times. I have to say that his performance during halftime on Sunday was awesome but I think it was the equivalent of the Last Hurrah of my fanhood.
My high school years were in large part bookended by the releases of The River and Born in the USA. Growing up you loved the energy and the dark lyrics made you feel grown up - ready to take on adult things. I never got into his Nebraska period - it was just too depressing for me (and based on record sales I don't think I was alone in this). The music was stripped of the energy that comes with the E-Street Band and what was left was just dark lyrics sung by a guy who if you are honest - doesn't really have a great singing voice. I mean there's a reason others have better luck singing his songs from Manfred Mann, to Patti Smith to the Pointer Sisters.
As an aside - I think the reason you never see any Springsteen songs licensed for Karaoke is because Bruce is afraid people will realize that Joe Blow actually sounds better singing the songs.
We are living in the greatest period of history in the greatest country in the history of the world but I think Bruce still thinks he's Woody Guthrie singing during the Depression. As I got older the dark lyrics overwhelmed me. Pick any song - lost my wife, lost my kids, unrequited love, lost my job - as you got older and these things became real threats it wasn't that fun anymore. It's like having a friend who is always negative about everything. Pretty soon you get sick of that guy and go out of your way to avoid him. That's what Bruce Springsteen was becoming to me.
Ask any Springsteen fan what the big deal is with Bruce and they will start off by saying you need to see Bruce in concert to understand the attraction. When I was young - a Springsteen concert was a 4-hour marathon. A test of endurance between Springsteen and his fans. Today the concerts have been cut to 3 hours with at least a half hour of that time reserved for Bruce to pretend to be a preacher lecturing the audience. That leaves 2 and a half hours for music. That's a Bob Seger concert - with the difference that Seger is more upbeat and positive.
Tickets for Springsteen's 2009 concert tour went on sale Monday. I did not bother to call.