May 8, 2008

Darkness and Born To Run...THE concert

When I listen to Springsteen on my IPOD I play things in order -- first album, first song, second song, etc. Never have I ever heard of a concert that follows that method...until now.

In something Springsteen described as "something we've never done before and you're not gonna see anywhere else" the Band played their benefit gig for the Count Bassie Theatre in Red Bank and it was just that, Darkness and Born to Run in their entirety...and in sequence:
Adam Raised a Cain
Something in the Night
Candy's Room
Racing in the Street
The Promised Land
Streets of Fire
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
* * *
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (w/ horns)
Born to Run
She's the One
Meeting Across the River (w/ Mark Pender)
* * *
So Young and in Love (w/ horns)
Kitty's Back (w/ horns)
Rosalita (w/ horns)
Raise Your Hand (w/ horns)

Wow, to have been there...just couldn't come up with the $1000 a ticket.


Apr 25, 2008

Springsteen's Eulogy for Danny


An amazing remembrance, delivered by Bruce Springsteen at Danny Federici’s funeral on April 21 in Red Bank, New Jersey:


Let me start with the stories.

Back in the days of miracles, the frontier days when “Mad Dog” Lopez and his temper struck fear into the band, small club owners, innocent civilians and all women, children and small animals.

Back in the days when you could still sign your life away on the hood of a parked car in New York City.

Back shortly after a young red-headed accordionist struck gold on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and he and his mama were sent to Switzerland to show them how it’s really done.

Back before beach bums were featured on the cover of Time magazine.

I’m talking about back when the E Street Band was a communist organization! My pal, quiet, shy Dan Federici, was a one-man creator of some of the hairiest circumstances of our 40 year career… And that wasn’t easy to do. He had “Mad Dog” Lopez to compete with…. Danny just outlasted him.

Maybe it was the “police riot” in Middletown, New Jersey. A show we were doing to raise bail money for “Mad Log” Lopez who was in jail in Richmond, Virginia, for having an altercation with police officers who we’d aggravated by playing too long. Danny allegedly knocked over our huge Marshall stacks on some of Middletown’s finest who had rushed the stage because we broke the law by…playing too long.

As I stood there watching, several police officers crawled out from underneath the speaker cabinets and rushed away to seek medical attention. Another nice young officer stood in front of me onstage waving his nightstick, poking and calling me nasty names. I looked over to see Danny with a beefy police officer pulling on one arm while Flo Federici, his first wife, pulled on the other, assisting her man in resisting arrest.
A kid leapt from the audience onto the stage, momentarily distracting the beefy officer with the insults of the day. Forever thereafter, “Phantom” Dan Federici slipped into the crowd and disappeared.

A warrant out for his arrest and one month on the lam later, he still hadn’t been brought to justice. We hid him in various places but now we had a problem. We had a show coming at Monmouth College. We needed the money and we had to do the gig. We tried a replacement but it didn’t work out. So Danny, to all of our admiration, stepped up and said he’d risk his freedom, take the chance and play.

Show night. 2,000 screaming fans in the Monmouth College gym. We had it worked out so Danny would not appear onstage until the moment we started playing. We figured the police who were there to arrest him wouldn’t do so onstage during the show and risk starting another riot.

Let me set the scene for you. Danny is hiding, hunkered down in the backseat of a car in the parking lot. At five minutes to eight, our scheduled start time, I go out to whisk him in. I tap on the window.

“Danny, come on, it’s time.”

I hear back, “I’m not going.”

Me: “What do you mean you’re not going?”

Danny: “The cops are on the roof of the gym. I’ve seen them and they’re going to nail me the minute I step out of this car.”

As I open the door, I realize that Danny has been smoking a little something and had grown rather paranoid. I said, “Dan, there are no cops on the roof.”
He says, “Yes, I saw them, I tell you. I’m not coming in.”

So I used a procedure I’d call on often over the next forty years in dealing with my old pal’s concerns. I threatened him…and cajoled. Finally, out he came.

Across the parking lot and into the gym we swept for a rapturous concert during which we laughed like thieves at our excellent dodge of the local cops.

At the end of the evening, during the last song, I pulled the entire crowd up onto the stage and Danny slipped into the audience and out the front door. Once again, “Phantom” Dan had made his exit. (I still get the occasional card from the old Chief of Police of Middletown wishing us well. Our histories are forever intertwined.) And that, my friends, was only the beginning.

There was the time Danny quit the band during a rough period at Max’s Kansas City, explaining to me that he was leaving to fix televisions. I asked him to think about that and come back later.

Or Danny, in the band rental car, bouncing off several parked cars after a night of entertainment, smashing out the windshield with his head but saved from severe injury by the huge hard cowboy hat he bought in Texas on our last Western swing.

Or Danny, leaving a large marijuana plant on the front seat of his car in a tow away zone. The car was promptly towed. He said, “Bruce, I’m going to go down and report that it was stolen.” I said, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

Down he went and straight into the slammer without passing go.

Or Danny, the only member of the E Street Band to be physically thrown out of the Stone Pony. Considering all the money we made them, that wasn’t easy to do.

Or Danny receiving and surviving a “cautionary assault” from an enraged but restrained “Big Man” Clarence Clemons while they were living together and Danny finally drove the “Big Man” over the big top.

Or Danny assisting me in removing my foot from his stereo speaker after being the only band member ever to drive me into a violent rage.

And through it all, Danny played his beautiful, soulful B3 organ for me and our love grew. And continued to grow. Life is funny like that. He was my homeboy, and great, and for that you make considerations… And he was much more tolerant of my failures than I was of his.

When Danny wasn’t causing chaos, he was a sweet, talented, unassuming, unpretentious good-hearted guy who simply had an unchecked ability to make good fortune and things in general go fabulously wrong.

But beyond all of that, he also had a mountain of the right stuff. He had the heart and soul of an engineer. He learned to fly. He was always up on the latest technology and would explain it to you patiently and in enormous detail. He was always “souping” something up, his car, his stereo, his B3. When Patti joined the band, he was the most welcoming, thoughtful, kindest friend to the first woman entering our “boys club.”

He loved his kids, always bragging about Jason, Harley, and Madison, and he loved his wife Maya for the new things she brought into his life.

And then there was his artistry. He was the most intuitive player I’ve ever seen. His style was slippery and fluid, drawn to the spaces the other musicians in the E Street Band left. He wasn’t an assertive player, he was a complementary player. A true accompanist. He naturally supplied the glue that bound the band’s sound together. In doing so, he created for himself a very specific style. When you hear Dan Federici, you don’t hear a blanket of sound, you hear a riff, packed with energy, flying above everything else for a few moments and then gone back in the track. “Phantom” Dan Federici. Now you hear him, now you don’t.

Offstage, Danny couldn’t recite a lyric or a chord progression for one of my songs. Onstage, his ears opened up. He listened, he felt, he played, finding the perfect hole and placement for a chord or a flurry of notes. This style created a tremendous feeling of spontaneity in our ensemble playing.

In the studio, if I wanted to loosen up the track we were recording, I’d put Danny on it and not tell him what to play. I’d just set him loose. He brought with him the sound of the carnival, the amusements, the boardwalk, the beach, the geography of our youth and the heart and soul of the birthplace of the E Street Band.

Then we grew up. Very slowly. We stood together through a lot of trials and tribulations. Danny’s response to a mistake onstage, hard times, catastrophic events was usually a shrug and a smile. Sort of an “I am but one man in a raging sea, but I’m still afloat. And we’re all still here.”

I watched Danny fight and conquer some tough addictions. I watched him struggle to put his life together and in the last decade when the band reunited, thrive on sitting in his seat behind that big B3, filled with life and, yes, a new maturity, passion for his job, his family and his home in the brother and sisterhood of our band.

Finally, I watched him fight his cancer without complaint and with great courage and spirit. When I asked him how things looked, he just said, “what are you going to do? I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” Danny, the sunny side up fatalist. He never gave up right to the end.

A few weeks back we ended up onstage in Indianapolis for what would be the last time. Before we went on I asked him what he wanted to play and he said, “Sandy.” He wanted to strap on the accordion and revisit the boardwalk of our youth during the summer nights when we’d walk along the boards with all the time in the world.

So what if we just smashed into three parked cars, it’s a beautiful night! So what if we’re on the lam from the entire Middletown police department, let’s go take a swim! He wanted to play once more the song that is of course about the end of something wonderful and the beginning of something unknown and new.

Let’s go back to the days of miracles. Pete Townshend said, “a rock and roll band is a crazy thing. You meet some people when you’re a kid and unlike any other occupation in the whole world, you’re stuck with them your whole life no matter who they are or what crazy things they do.”

If we didn’t play together, the E Street Band at this point would probably not know one another. We wouldn’t be in this room together. But we do… We do play together. And every night at 8 p.m., we walk out on stage together and that, my friends, is a place where miracles occur…old and new miracles. And those you are with, in the presence of miracles, you never forget. Life does not separate you. Death does not separate you. Those you are with who create miracles for you, like Danny did for me every night, you are honored to be amongst.

Of course we all grow up and we know “it’s only rock and roll”…but it’s not. After a lifetime of watching a man perform his miracle for you, night after night, it feels an awful lot like love.

So today, making another one of his mysterious exits, we say farewell to Danny, “Phantom” Dan, Federici. Father, husband, my brother, my friend, my mystery, my thorn, my rose, my keyboard player, my miracle man and lifelong member in good standing of the house rockin’, pants droppin’, earth shockin’, hard rockin’, booty shakin’, love makin’, heart breakin’, soul cryin’… and, yes, death defyin’ legendary E Street Band.


Apr 23, 2008

Springsteen Scenes from Tampa

So it sounds like they honored Danny's spirit in Tampa last night and then some. I can't help but think that getting back on stage as fast as possible is the best therapy for the band. Where else can you be simultaneously consoled by 20,000 people and console 20,000 people?

This is a short video of the end of Sandy with Roy on the accordion and Springsteen wiping away tears. Tough, tough, tough.


Apr 21, 2008

The Boss and Barack

This is too funny. Great video:


Apr 17, 2008

RIP Danny Federici

Danny Federici, for 40 years the E Street Band's organist and keyboard player, died this afternoon, April 17, 2008 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City after a three year battle with melanoma.


Apr 7, 2008

And another Springsteen convert

This is happening more and more often now. This time it is Jim Harrington over at Live Daily.

Read his full article here.

But there's no denying it now: I was an idiot. Now I know what seemingly every other rock fan in the world already knows: A Springsteen concert isn't to be missed.

Love it!


The awakening of a fan

I would say that Steve Gillmor has been indoctrinated into the Brotherhood of the Boss with this article. I love seeing a fan being borne...

Read the whole thing here.

I've been immune to Bruce Springsteen for more than 30 years. Tonight, that is over. I'd heard so much about the power of his live show, the legend of Clarence Clemons, the Soprano jaunt of Little Steven, yadda, yadda, yadda. Nothin. Nice guy, man of the people, power anthems that never really connected.

The harbinger for me was an appearance on Today a few months ago, where Springsteen and his E Street Band debuted an anti-war song with the most startling spoken intro that the veeps at GE must have blinked through like a sip of tart limeade. Living in the future, well, you should get the record. Tonight, I finally did.


Apr 3, 2008

Finally, someone who 'gets' the brotherhood...

A while ago I asked if I was the only one who felt the brotherhood of the Boss. Apparently Tony Sauro feels the same way. Check out his article here.

Is there something there? Do you feel the camaraderie at His shows?


Apr 1, 2008

Report from the Road: Victoria NEAR Victoria

BC that is. The final report for a while from Victoria and she was blessed with 2 back-to-back great shows.

Don't take my word for it:

At 8:15 p.m. in Vancouver, Bruce and the E Street Band took the stage to polite applause. Bruce quietly moved to the microphone that was bathed in light. “Well, they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night…” The rest of the band joined in and so it began. It was a totally unexpected but wonderful opening. Magic was in the sixth slot and it was the best live version I’ve heard. With this song Soozie has come into her own - her violin and vocals complement Bruce beautifully. The Boss gave us another powerhouse trio combo: Trapped – Reason to Believe – Because the Night. (I thought Reason was an audible as the mic wasn’t readily available. Looking at the original setlist, Murder (Incorporated?), was in that slot. Perhaps something for the fans in Sacramento to look forward to.) The truly special moment of the night was “an obscure song we have never played live”. Bruce continued to give hints: it’s an outtake from Born in the USA (some light applause) – it’s still an outtake, and you’re not gonna know it ‘cause it isn’t on any album. But as soon as the band started the intro, I recognized it from Essential – None But the Brave. I got goosebumps just like I did when I heard County Fair at Darien Lake in 2003. What a treat!

The rest of the set was the same as Seattle (why mess with a good thing?) with The River substituting for Point Blank and audible Dancing in the Dark. I’m happy to report that Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and Rosalita kicked off the encore – it is a terrific 1-2 punch.

Clarence appeared to be tired tonight. His solos were good but not exceptional like in previous shows. Despite labouring, he still evoked a huge response from the crowd whenever he picked up his sax.

Short snippets.
- During Bruce’s prologue to Living in the Future, someone yelled out “move to Canada!!”.
- There were a lot of signs including Pink Cadillac, E-Street Shuffle, Seeds, Jersey Girl.
- Overheard at 8 p.m.: “What’ya mean there are no seats on the floor?” from an incredulous fellow about to descend the stairs to GA.

I had great seats in the 100 level, one section from the stage. Behind me sat two lifelong Springsteen fans who had attended the Portland and Seattle shows. After we reminisced and raved about the Seattle show, I asked where they were from….Oregon. Uhm…I quickly decided not to tell them about the customary behaviour of Vancouver concert crowds. However they soon found out when a considerable number of the sold out crowd sat through the entire show (and believe it or not, some were still firmly rooted during Born to Run!). Bruce worked very hard to get the crowd to its feet. He raised his arms, cupped his ears, strolled the front and back walkways and attempted to entice sing-a-longs. Did the patrons need an interpreter?

It wasn’t a note perfect outing but pretty damn close. It was yet another stellar performance with memorable highlights. To date, I’ve seen seven shows on the Magic tour including 42 unique songs. Every show is entertaining, exhilarating and inspiring. Bruce, Max, Little Stevie, Gary, Soozie, Patti, Nils, Clarence, Charlie and Roy: THANK YOU!! Today I will be purchasing lottery tickets with the hope of winning enough cash to see more shows. If this doesn’t happen, I have some great memories to last a lifetime. See you down the road!


Classic April fools fodder on

God love Chris and the boys for April Fools Day on For those that are uninitiated, Backstreets runs some great spoof articles on their news section each and EVERY April Fools day and today is no exception. I can still remember being duped and ready to dump the Boss when I saw the American Idol one a couple years back.

Kudos guys! View it all here.

My fav: