Funeral For A Friend

The night the music, and its culture, turned into a corpse at the hands of its savior

I don't know about the future, but rock and roll died Tuesday night at the Miami Arena. It was not pretty. What's worse, it wasn't ugly either.

I literally couldn't even get arrested. I also couldn't believe that I was seeing rock and roll die in my lifetime and in this most unlikely situation. It hurt real bad.

I am not being petulant. I do not have a chip on my shoulder. And I sure as hell am not joking. I didn't want this terrible thing to happen, and I'm not glad that it did. I can see where you might not believe me at this point, so let me explain a few things that may have misled you:

Last year I was chatting on the phone with an L.A. producer who told me that Bruce Springsteen had finished recording his long-awaited new album. Considering that Springsteen hadn't released anything new in years, this seemed important, so I called Bruce's personal publicists. "Duh, what?" was the essence of their response. I told them more about the topic at hand than they would or could tell me. I continued calling them, and I continued to be told, curtly, that no one knew anything about any new album. I didn't get mad, and I swear I wasn't trying to get even when I simply made up a Bruce album, reviewed this nonexistent entity, and even fabricated an exclusive interview with the man idiots call the Boss (he hates that nickname). Our big lie turned out to be pretty damn close to the truth, except that Bruce, as you know, released two albums instead of one. Otherwise we were right: Springsteen was about to release a new work, and the phones lit up nationwide the day our hoax story came out. Radio stations, newspapers, and magazines, including the Springsteen journal Backstreets, called, first to find out if the article was true, then to find out more about the hoax itself. We made our point, had some fun, and the real world spun on. Except that Bruce's publicists were reportedly peeved at us. I was not peeved at them, I held no hard feelings, I still felt strongly (in the positive) about Springsteen.

Months later Bruce appeared on network television (playing three songs on Saturday Night Live) -- something he once vowed he would never, ever do. Didn't bother me a bit. Even taped it. Staff writer Todd Anthony, however, saw ludicrousness written all over Bruce's apparent sellout, and he penned a funny but pointed piece suggesting that Bruce had died and been replaced by a Japanese-built robot. The story was more flippant than mean-spirited, and while scores of suckers called, some in tears, because they misread the article and actually thought Bruce might be dead, we truly meant no harm. Anthony just wanted to make a legitimate point, and he did. (After last week's concert, Anthony said he believes what he wrote more than ever.)

We did not review Human Touch or Lucky Town, only because I sincerely lacked interest. No spite, just an honest editorial decision. Recordingwise, I own about everything Bruce has released, and plenty of stuff he hasn't. I like his music. And I am thankful that it helped save my life.

So no matter what misunderstandings and misinterpretations may have arisen, I have never abandoned Springsteen, I have nothing against the man, I still consider him the ultimate rock star. At least I did until this past Tuesday night. Now I have but one word for Bruce Springsteen: retire.

But this is more than a pan of a boring concert. This is an obituary.
In the blink of a young girl's eye, forces conspired to rip life's richest rug right out from under me, and I'm sprawled here on the floor trying to figure out how this could happen. As I write this, Darkness on the Edge of Town is oozing out of my boom box, all pain and misery, perfect.

I sacrificed much over the years to be closer my Bruce to thee. The payback was always there, bigger and better than I deserved. A billion years ago a song called "Blinded by the Light" convinced me that rock and roll could be literature, and more. A million years ago I felt hopeless, truly desperate, but an album called Born to Run changed all that, delivered to me a catharsis immeasurable. A thousand years ago I stood in a parking lot offering members of the Paks Gang a free ticket and gas money if one of them would give me a ride to Bruce's show at the long-defunct Hollywood Sportatorium. No one would. I made it to the show anyway, and I raged when some asshole tossed a firecracker at the stage, provoking Springsteen to invite the perpetrator out to the parking lot. Right behind ya, Bruce. A hundred years ago me and my beloved tramp drove to Tallahassee on the day of the show to see Bruce live. The transmission of the Japanese car broke as we entered Broward County, so we drove all the way to the top of the state in fourth gear, met some scalpers in the parking lot of a motel, and arrived at our nosebleed seats just as the E Street Band rolled on to the stage. I cannot forget or forsake any of these moments; they're among the most important in my life.

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