Looking back now I could say it was good fortune. a great band fronted by a legend, a great gig and we found “our” song. A few lines from which were my contribution to my wedding booklet and I thought I was safe until Fr David dropped the Gospel according to Bruce Springsteen bombshell – What the hell ???
Rewind a few years and I was living in a ground floor flat in Upper Grand Canal Street, Dublin and working in the HMV store on Grafton Street in the city centre. The pay was dire but I made a few good friends and also had access to securing tickets when they were released. So I did just that when the tickets for the first Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band gig went on sale and invited my girlfriend at the time Jane (now my wife) to join me.
A few years before I’d seen him playing solo in the State Theatre in Sydney and now he had reformed the E Street Band I was determined to get to see the full line up in action.
I’m not a Bruce fanatic but I really like a lot of his songs and Jane was at best a casual listener and she swore she owned a vinyl copy of Born In The USA somewhere. I’d travelled through Ireland and Europe in 1989 and had two cassettes – Nebraska and REM’s Green on solid rotation so I knew that album inside out. I had bought every album since The River and thought Human Touch and Lucky Town were underrated. Wasn’t that keen on his earlier stuff it has to be said.
I thought the gig was great. The sun was setting on a warm summers day and the band seemed to be taking it up a notch every song. Loads from his back catalogue and a sweltering version of Youngstown & The Ghost of Tom Joad were highlights for me as was Mansion On The Hill from Nebraska.
Jane thought the gig was good at this stage and then the magic happened!
The stage was completely dark and a spotlight came on the centre microphone. Bruce was playing his electric and started “If I Should Fall Behind”. He sang the first few linesof the song in the spotlight and then went back into the darkness and from there emerged his wife and backing singer Patti Scialfa to deliver a few lines and she swopped with Nils Lofgren and then Clarence Clemons. It was a brilliant lesson in stage craft.
Jane loved it and as we walked home she asked me did I have that song. Of course the nerd in me said, album version, bootleg etc. I even had a version by Go-Between Grant McLennan.
Fast forward a few years and Jane and I were getting married. I slipped a few lyrics from the song uncredited into the booklet thinking it would be nice and possibly even clever. I had also chosen the song as the first dance later. Incidentally Pierce Brosnan stole this idea a few weeks later for his own wedding.
The chapel was lovely, better known as the one from Ballykissangel, and the sun was shining . Most priests would be into Daniel O’Donnell or The Celtic Tenors I would have thought. That is stereotyping of course but you are probably thinking the same thing if you’re honest.
I was pulled up in the middle of the service by the only priest in Ireland who not only had a bog’s notion who Bruce Springsteen was but as it turned out was very familiar with his lesser known catalogue as well. He was reading through the usual scriptures and verses and noted “Oh and here we have a reading from the Gospel according to Bruce”. Rumbled!
Fr David was cool though and we chatted away about box sets and bootlegs during appropriate moments like the register signing.
All went well. I’ve caught Bruce live a good few times since, sometimes with Jane but mostly with my cousin Paddy who is a Bruce fanatic. That gig was special though.
Jane and I? Well we said we’d walk together come what may!
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Prove It All Night
Mansion On The Hill
Out In The Street
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
Red Headed Woman
Working On The Highway
The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Born In The U.S.A.
Light Of Day
Born To Run
If I Should Fall Behind
Land Of Hope And Dreams