I became a Bruce Springsteen fan in 1984, after being introduced to the album Born In the USA by my older sister. I was especially caught by the song No Surrender (read the earlier blogpost “No Surrender”). Not being able to attend the famous stadium breaker concerts in Ullevi 1985 because I was “too young”, I spent the following years collecting and listening to any other Bruce Springsteen material I could get my hands on. I used my computer to write down the texts of all the songs and then I catalogued them. This way my English also improved notably.
By the time of the release of Human Touch/Lucky Town in 1992, CD’s had become more popular than vinyls and I still remember being laughed at by record store salesman as I prebooked the vinyl albums. Apparently I was totally outdated.
On June 15, 1992 I heard Bruce Springsteen live for the first time ever. It was the tour premiere of the Human Touch/Lucky Town tour in Stockholm, Sweden. My memories of this concert is kind of blurry, to be honest, but I there are certain moments that are inprinted in my memory forever. I know that I and a couple of friends drove from Gothenburg that morning, a trip of about 5h and we arrived to the venue (Globen) pretty early and I remember waiting in line for a few hours. I have no recollection of any pit queue (were there pit queues back then?). When we were let in my spot was third row stage right, a pretty decent spot.
Right before the start of the show they turned down the lights and I could see shadows of people moving on the stage. All of a sudden a beam of light revealed Bruce Springsteen on the mike singing:
Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
To the hours and minutes tickin’ away
Yeah just sittin’ around waitin’ for my life to begin
While it was all just slippin’ away
I’m tired of waitin’ for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin’ ’round the bend
I got a new suit of clothes a pretty red rose
And a woman I can call my friend
These are better days baby
Yeah there’s better days shining through
These are better days baby
Better days with a girl like you
I found myself screaming out loud, jumping up and down of sheer excitement, my body filled with adrenaline and joy. And I felt that these were better days indeed! I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be in that moment and a thirst for more was awaken.
On May 28, 1993 the same tour returned to Sweden, this time for a concert in the Olympic Stadion in Stockholm. This time we travelled by train, going back with the night train back to Gothenburg after the show. One vivid memory from that trip is waking up in the tiny bed in the train compartment with serious cramps in both of my calves, totally drained after the concert.
The song ‘Better Days’ is the first track of the album “Lucky Town” that was released on the same day as “Human Touch” on March 31, 1992. The song is often described as a happy song, anticipating happier times and reassuring you that everything is going to be alright.
One of my favourite lines (apart from the first verse written above) is:
It’s a sad man my friend who’s living in his own skin and can’t stand the company
It makes me think of how important it is to love yourself.
As Springsteen had dissolved his long-time backing E Street Band this tour was the first with a new backing band (“the other band”). In fact it would take another ten years before I got the chance to see Springsteen play with the legendary E Street Band, this time in my hometown, Gothenburg (June 21, 2003 Ullevi).
To conclude, every time I hear the song Better Days I’m reminded of my first Bruce Springsteen concert. Whenever this tune comes up on my Spotify shuffle as the first song of the day, I know it’ll be a good one.