Bruce is Boss!

state_springsteen.jpgI hope that the Super Bowl will continue to book solid acts, true singers and real musicians to grace the stage during halftime.






On Sunday, Feb. 1, for the first time ever, the man, the myth, the legend known as Bruce Springsteen performed at the Super Bowl. For fans like me who don’t give two squats about football, I couldn’t pass up this rare, exciting chance to see The Boss do his thing. And you know what? Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are as good today as they were 30 years ago in their prime.

As soon as he took to the stage, I could tell Springsteen had no intention of slacking on his 12-minute performance. Before any words were spoken, we saw the image of him and extraordinary saxophonist Clarence "Mr. C." Clemons leaning against one another in an obvious nod to the phenomenal (and often parodied) album cover of "Born to Run." He then crossed the stage, instructing everyone watching at home to step away from the guacamole dip and put the chicken fingers down, because he and the E Street band were ready to rock…and rock is exactly what they did.

I sat glued to the TV for 12 minutes. Twelve minutes that seemed to zoom by in an instant. As quickly as the band started, they stopped. And quite frankly, I was saddened. Not so much because the show was over, but because it just made it so incredibly obvious how much today’s brand of music completely sucks. Little to no creativity or talent is required, and that’s just not right. I’ve watched the last few Super Bowl halftime shows simply because they’ve featured legendary artists. In 2007, we saw His Royal Badness, Prince, and in 2008, we heard from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. On each occasion, after these legends ended their all-too-brief sets, I was left feeling a bit empty, because I knew that if I wanted to continue listening to quality, timeless music, I’d need to rely solely on my extensive CD collection. These days, unfortunately, radio stations, MTV and media conglomerates alike don’t seem to value musical talent of substance. It’s all about look and style; music is disposable and artists are, too.

But the music scene was completely different back in the day. I remember first learning about Springsteen in 1984, with the success of the Born in the U.S.A. album. I was fortunate enough to have a savvy older sister who knew a good musician when she heard one. Springsteen was one of her favorites and she played his album constantly. It was also the age of early MTV, so his videos "Glory Days," "Dancing in the Dark" and "Born in the U.S.A." were in regular rotation. Even as a kid, I remember thinking he was quite talented. As I watched all of the E Street Band members in the videos I couldn’t help thinking how cool it must be to be in a band. I learned to have respect for true artists, their vision and their creation.

When I watched Springsteen and the gang on Sunday, I wondered how many kids (if any) watched that same performance and realized (or even appreciated) the fact that they were witnessing history. And I’m not merely talking about the fact that this was Springsteen’s first Super Bowl appearance; I mean history from the standpoint of a career that spans 30-plus successful years in the recording industry. Not many people can make that claim, but Springsteen can. And just think: Do you really believe artists like Chris Brown, Rhianna, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Usher and hosts of others who dominate the pop charts today are going to be in this industry, selling out stadiums, performing to millions at the Super Bowl 30-years from now?

And that’s why I hope that the Super Bowl will continue to book solid acts, true singers and real musicians to grace the stage during halftime. The audience needs to be reminded what real music looks like and what real music sounds like. Even though none of them are "spring chickens," Springsteen and Co. brought the house down. Experience and talent should be rewarded, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have certainly shown that true talent knows no expiration. | Retannical D. Russell

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