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Et tu, Bruce?

Springsteen does the Super Bowl

By Steve Wiecking February 2, 2009


I tried to make it all the way through Super Bowl Sunday but couldn’t take it because they kept interrupting the commercials with some football game—hardly proper, considering that the Hyundai Genesis won Car of the Year. And why all the pigskin praise when Kay Jewelers, according to Jane Seymour, "have brought more hearts together than, well, just about anyone." (More hearts than God, Jane? Check yourself, Dr. Quinn.)

I did watch the Hyundai Genesis Kickoff Show. If they won Car of the Year you’ve got to figure they know entertainment. Out walked Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson to sing the national anthem. Just once I’d like to hear someone knock out that song note by note without treating it like “The Star Search Spangled Banner” but I’m obviously in the minority.

The big question for the night was this: When did Bruce Springsteen turn into Tom Jones?

I mean no disrespect here. I love Tom Jones. I love Springsteen even more. I will confess that, particularly as the hangover blues kick in, there is a bit of Et tu, Bruce? I’m sort of disappointed that Bruce felt okay singing “in the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream” on a television event that increasingly makes Triumph of the Will look sheepish and underproduced. He told The New York Times that this was just the easiest way to promote his new album. He was right: Today Working on a Dream sits atop the Amazon and iTunes popularity lists.

Yet if someone’s got to hypnotize the gazillion viewers of a jingo rally I can’t think of anyone I’d want more than a good guy with unimpeachable liberal credentials (Janet Jackson’s boob was a good poke in the eye, too, but we won’t see something like that again). And he rocked.

But if you’d told me Tom Jones had subbed for an ailing Bruce I’d believe you. There he was, his thick frame wrapped tight in black, asking us to put down our chicken fingers—methinks Bruce is no stranger to chicken fingers—before humping the mic stand, swinging his guitar all the way around his torso, and doing things I didn’t think people pushing 60 could do without a doctor’s supervision. Does anyone remember the "Dancing in the Dark" video in which Bruce proved that darkness was perhaps the best place for his dancing? What happened?

The man is 59 years old and I just saw him slide across the stage on his knees. I’m 41 and hoping I can make it through The Lion King again without an aisle seat to stretch my bum leg. The Boss, indeed. Forget the Brutus reference. All hail Caesar.

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