I told Mickey I was taking Molly to the concert with me.
"Fine. Take your new cunt with you!" Mickey and I had worked with Molly during our Comedy World days and Molly happened to have moved to DC four month ago, on a whim. I told Molly she was anointed "my new cunt" by Mickey, she laughed and said, "I've been worse for less."
By the time Molly got to my apartment to pick me up for the concert, I was breathing fire. I’d been listening to Bruce for days, the background music for my second week of work. I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. The fearless romance of his lyrics were the foundation of my life with Billy. Sometimes I’d be sitting at my desk, fresh from a sweaty phone call, and I’d want to just start crying but another call would come just in time. I don't mean to cause you hurt or cause you pain. Life is short and love's a dirty game. Now there's no need for our game to end. Come close and we'll begin. To find our beautiful selves again, my lover man.
The rig for securing a good spot when general admission “pit” tickets are bought is to get to the stadium early, soak in the Bruceness of the other pitpeople and get your wristband for the lottery. Molly and I sat outside the gates, listening to the band run through their sound check. You shot through my anger and rage. To show me my prison was just an open cage. There were no keys, no guards. Just one frightened man and some old shadows for bars.
“Holy shit! He’s going to do “Living Proof!” It’s one of my favorite songs but when I was jumping up and down as if on a pogo stick and screaming, Molly looked at me and gave me a blank smile.
The Bruce people organized the crowd into an orderly line-up worthy of the passport office. When they opened the gates, Bruce and the band were still on stage so we were kept out of the open field and near the beer stands. Molly and I started drinking. And drinking. When the sound check was finished, the field was ours. Both of us planted our feet firmly in front of Bruce’s mike and we stayed put.
The show started about three beers later and out he came. We were so close, it shocked us. We shared his spotlight as it shown on the tops of our heads. The band took their spots but the light was only on Bruce with a black acoustic guitar held in his hands. Without speaking first, he strummed out I Walk The Line. After he finished this quiet tribute, there was an audible gasp from the 67,000 people behind us. And then came the low grumble that sounds like “boo” to the uninitiated but it’s the loud and affectionate cry of his name.
After the haunting opening, he played “The Rising” and followed it with “Lonesome Day.” I was there, screaming out the words along with my fellow pitsters, and I felt lifted and released. When he started to strum “You’re Missing”, the tears held back at the office started to freely roll down my cheeks and I felt Molly rubbing my back in comfort.
He shot back with “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day,” and I was right with him. I was fist pumping right along with
I believe in the love that you gave me. I believe in the faith that could save me.
I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it may raise me. Above these Badlands.
He pulled out some surprises for the night, most notably “Pink Cadillac,” and kept his speaking to a minimum. He thanked everyone for coming and told the crowd everyone is always invited to come see him then added, “Well, except for Dick Cheney.” He spoke of the need for our leaders to be held accountable if they are going to send our sons and daughters off to war and he launched into “Born In The U.S.A.” After that, the stage went dark and Bruce came back solo to do “Paradise,” a song about the insanity of grief. I reach and feel your hair. Your smell lingers in the air. I brush your cheek with my fingertips I taste the void upon your lips.
He ended the show with “Rosalita” and “Dancing In The Dark.” The emotional roller coaster of his shows are quite extraordinary. When the media portrays Bruce, they get it wrong in the same way filmmakers foul up Stephen King's work. They tend to ignore the absolute silly, goofy boyishness he brings to his shows and they focus on his solemnity.
My eardrums were shot, my eyes dazed, my baseball cap wet with sweat, and I was happy. Transported and redeemed. It was the second time I’ve seen Bruce since Billy left and both times, I felt close to my Guyster - as close as I’ll ever get to my beautiful reward again.
Well your hair shone in the sun
I was so high I was the lucky one
Then I came crashing down like a drunk on a barroom floor
Searching for my beautiful reward