Editor’s Note: This review of Springsteen on Broadway was written by my partner, who is what one might describe as a demented fan of Bruce Springsteen. I’m publishing it here (cleaned up for grammar but otherwise unchanged) in order to ensure a peaceful Christmas at home, but as a precaution I’m not including a score, as it’ll swiftly become apparent that this isn’t exactly coming from a place of objectivity.
Springsteen on Broadway has got to be one of the best shows on Netflix, and here’s why…
Springsteen recounts a number of memories that are essential to who he is, how he writes, his inspiration and his motivation; it flows like a conversation you would have with your best friend and commands your attention like if you were ever lucky enough to hear your granddad’s war stories on a Sunday afternoon.
He speaks to you about these intimate moments in his life that were the inspiration behind the songs he performs in and amongst his stories. He lets you in but most importantly he makes you want to stay there and listen. He talks about the highlights and the pitfalls, one of which was when he was drafted for the Vietnam War; he talks about the loss of his friends and wonders who went in his place “because somebody did”, then plays a rendition of “Born in the USA”. Springsteen has always been actively political and has often used his music to express his thoughts of the establishment and although it’s incredibly sad to learn the origin story to a few of these songs, it makes for amazing music.
Springsteen is very foul-mouthed in this show and uses humour throughout, which is refreshing! It’s great to see this side of him, to let him shine and be himself without the beautiful chaos of the E Street band behind him. You can tell he has enjoyed doing this show and you can tell he has been waiting to verbalize his story for his fans, and even if you aren’t a fan you would have to be a monster to not appreciate this work of art.
He recounts the first time he met his good friend Mr Clarence Clemens, who Sadly is no longer living, he depicts the most poetic and romantic story of how Clarence used to make him feel when he played, he shows love and appreciation for his loved ones, and he describes losing Clarence as “like losing the rain”.
Springsteen on Broadway lets you in to see the vulnerability of the Boss, and lets you re-live every song that ever made you feel some kind of way and hear it with a fresh ear. It lets you imagine with your eyes closed a new story to what you already thought you knew. He makes this show about family and friends and it feels like a dedication. He brings his wife out on stage to duet after the most beautiful introduction, and I am telling you all now, if my future husband does not make me feel how this man did when I heard him speak about Patty, he will be my future ex-husband. And coincidentally they duet to “Tougher than the Rest” which is my first dance choice for my wedding, so lets hope Mr Wilson does a good job!
Springsteen goes on to talk about fatherhood and brings up a memory of his father coming to visit him “after being a ghost for such a long, long time” petitioning him not to make the same mistakes that he did. “It was the greatest moment of my life with my dad, and it was all that I needed.” That statement wasn’t a shock to hear, a lot of Springsteen’s music preaches forgiveness and closure. He says, “I never believe that people come to my shows or any rock show to be told anything, but I do believe they come to be reminded of things; to be reminded who they are… music does that pretty well.” I think this line sums the entire special up.
He says, “I want my music to be called upon when times are good and when they’re not so good to help make sense of your life and to strengthen the way you strengthen me and help make sense of my life, you have provided me with purpose and a great amount of joy and I hope I have done the same for you and that I have a good traveling companion.” From a personal point of view Bruce Springsteen has been with me from my earliest memories; he has travelled with me every step of the way. My dad used to sing his songs on a night while tucking me in, and now in adulthood if I am having a tough day, week or in 2018’s case YEAR, he will often send me a text message with some lyrics relating to the situation my overactive brain cells create, which will firstly make me cry, then will see me play the whole song, which will make me cry again, then will help me to remember that every time I thought I was down and out, I was blessed enough to wake up the next day and try again. Bruce Springsteen has seen me through some incredibly harsh moments in life and some amazingly beautiful ones and I am certain he will see me through to my last moments. It is statements like that which reinforce my love for this man because he is doing it for all the right reasons.
All in all Springsteen on Broadway was simple, poetic, beautiful and educating; emotional, nostalgic and I envy the people in the audience who were lucky enough to witness it live. If you get a spare two hours to watch it yourself, please do.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.