It's Our Turn: Inspiring lessons from The BossHave you ever been deflated by that little voice in your head that tells you you’re “too old” to do something? Drown out that voice with some Bruce Springsteen music, or at least follow his lead. His passion for music, combined with his energy, focus and sense of fun make him an ageless wonder.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Have you ever been deflated by that little voice in your head that tells you you’re “too old” to do something?
Drown out that voice with some Bruce Springsteen music, or at least follow his lead. His passion for music, combined with his energy, focus and sense of fun make him an ageless wonder.
I had the chance to see The Boss at the Xcel in St. Paul earlier this month on his Wrecking Ball tour. Wow! The stuff this guy was doing at age 63 inspired me, at 52, to look forward to my next decade.
Bruce and the E Street Band tore up the stage for more than three hours, performing 25 songs without a break and delivering every one of them with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for encores. Even if you don’t particularly care for Springsteen’s type of music, there were lessons to learn from his performance.
First, keep on moving. The Boss didn’t let his 63 years make him think he was “too old” to slide across the stage on his knees or throw himself into the pit area and then surf on top of the crowd as it carried him along, or jump on top of a piano and fist-pump the audience into rocking along to the music. Some people crossing into their sixth decade become too sedentary, lured by the comfort of the couch. Take a cue from Bruce: Get up, move around, dance, work up a sweat. Create your own Fountain of Youth. Even if your body is no longer able to do the things it used to do, try to be as active as you can.
Second, keep having fun. Springsteen hammed things up with his band mates, cracked jokes and constantly interacted with the crowd with laughs and smiles that lit up his face and delighted his fans. He didn’t take himself too seriously. He shattered that grumpy, stick-in-the-mud label that is sometimes attached to the older age set.
Third, don’t be afraid to try new things. In one part of the concert, Springsteen took signs from fans containing requests for songs. One tune, Saving Up, was an obscure one he had written for his saxophone player, the late and legendary Clarence Clemons, for a 1983 album. The band had never played the song before and Springsteen had only performed it a couple of times himself, but that didn’t stop him. He gave each section of the band a crash course in how to play it, tried a couple of quick dry runs until he found the right key and then belted out the tune as if he’d been playing it for years. It was one of the highlights of the show.
Fourth, mix it up. It’s easy to fall into the same old, same old. Many performers fall victim to it, playing the same set lists in New York as they did in Los Angeles almost note for note. Not Springsteen. On this latest tour, he’s played 180 different songs (so far). In his back-to-back concerts at the Xcel, he played 15 different songs. Even when he does perform the same song, he often puts a twist into it, adding a new guitar riff or changing up the pace of a vocal. The fact that he’s performed his breakthrough 1975 hit, Born to Run, thousands upon thousands of times yet still manages to make it sound fresh and energized is proof that routines don’t have to be dull.
Lastly, remember your friends. Springsteen made several references to his friend Clemons, who died from a stroke last year. When performing Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, the band stopped, frozen in position, in a silent tribute to Clemons. With a montage of images of Clemons playing on the video screens overhead, Springsteen gestured the crowd to make as much noise as it could. Springsteen repeatedly shared the spotlight with his band mates, giving them solos and letting their energy infuse the show. He delighted in interacting with Clemons’ 24-year-old nephew, Jake Clemons, who has joined the band’s horn section. It was clear the concert was not just about Bruce. It was about the band, the fans and the music that left a message that you’re never “too old” for anything.
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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.