My Daughter and The Boss


My Daughter and The Boss

When I hear my brother-in-law is taking us to see Bruce Springsteen, I have one thought:  “Meh.”

See, I’ve never been a fan. I don’t dislike Springsteen, but I don’t know a lot of his music. I was a teen when Born in the U.S.A. came out, and after buying that one cassette tape, I realized the blue collar working class rock and roll just didn’t give me all the feels.   Journey singing “Open Arms” at the dance in the gym? Yep. Music that went along with mooning over my latest crush? Sure. Springsteen? Not so much. Face it; it’s only the most enlightened fourteen year old who’s weeping in her room over a song about a closed textile mill. Sadly, about the deepest thing I did at that age was switch to veggie cream cheese on my bagel.

So it will be my first Springsteen concert, and my tween daughter’s first “grown up” concert. Then I find out our tickets are for the pit.

Wait, no seats?

When I was younger, being in the pit meant being getting pushed, shoved,  knocked down, and losing your shoes. Possibly worse.   Sure, I was in the pit at Lollapalooza, but that was then.  Now I channel my aggression into trying to find a salesperson at the Nordstrom shoe sale.  What was I getting myself into? What was I getting my daughter into? At this age I want a designated chair space and a craft beer, not a raucous, festival seating free-for- all.

I know, it’s Springsteen, not Slayer.  But being a parent comes with irrational fears. They’re in the gift bag the hospital sends home with you, along with the formula samples, baby wipes, and pilfered hospital baby blankets. (Oh, don’t judge. You know you did it too.)

But, since  I’m an experienced concert-goer, or at least I was,  I’m  determined  to show my daughter the ropes, as well as keep her safe. As we head for the concert,  I’m wearing arch supports and toting a protective Mama Bear streak the size of, well, New Jersey.

Arriving as the last strains of “High Hopes” are playing, we linger in the dark on the fringes of the pit crowd. To my relief, I discover it is a polite, respectful audience, and people seem more interested in capturing the concert on their iPhones than in pushing or shoving. I am perhaps overly solicitous of my daughter, though, repeatedly asking, “Are you okay?” over the music, and glaring at anyone who dares to step in front of her, jostle her, or smoke near her.

It turns out crowd participation is a huge part of Springsteen shows, as he often takes to the auxiliary stage in the middle of the arena and  wades through the crowd to get there. He poses for pictures, crowd surfs, and brings audience members on stage by the dozens.  He even takes a birthday request, inviting the birthday boy himself (actually a grown man) on stage to sing with him. It is a poignant moment for me, as I watch my almost teenage daughter singing along to “Growin’ Up”.

All the feels, right there.

I arrive thinking I don’t know much of Springsteen’s music, but as the show goes on I realize actually know a lot.  And I’m enjoying the show.  I mean really enjoying it.   Among the songs I don’t know, I find new favorites in “Shackled and Drawn” and “Waitin’ On a Sunny Day”, the latter of which he invites a teenager onstage to sing. I find myself in awe of being in the presence of a living legend.

Bruce Springsteen has an undeniable magnetism, and I am drawn, to paraphrase Bruce, to the light of the oncoming train. As he puts it, it’s coming down the tracks. He’s sixty five years old, and despite his jaw-dropping vitality,  this may be the last time I get to see him play live.  I am suddenly overtaken with the need to be up front.

So we push forward. “Hungry Heart”. Push forward. “American Skin”. Push forward. “Darlington County”.  We can see the rivulets of sweat running down Bruce’s weathered but still handsome face, the forged steel muscles, and the emanating vibrancy that belies his age.

I sense the end of the concert end is near. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” is coming, and we still aren’t close enough.  The farther forward we get, the more closely people guard their space.

“We have to be aggressive if we want to get closer,” I whisper to my daughter. “You’re going to have to take the lead. They won’t let me through, but they’ll let you through. “ She looks apprehensive.

“Are you sure?” She asks.

I nod. “Are you ready?  Okay… go!”

And then she takes my hand and pulls me forward into the swaying crowd.


This piece orginally ran on Lefty Pop.







  1. OpinionsToGo says:

    Love, love, love this post! What a really sweet and ‘Cool’ bonding experience.

    • Thanks! I’m glad I was there for her first “real” concert. (I just hope she lets me go to another one with her some day!)

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