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Bruce Springsteen, Super Bowl Personal Journal

Thanks to Bruce &

(Dear Friends & Fans, a little glimpse from center stage.)

Panda and Football, photo by Danny Clinch

Panda and Football, photo by Danny Clinch

Six Air Force Thunderbirds have just roared overhead at what felt like inches above our backstage area, giving myself and the entire E Street Band a brush cut. With 20 minutes to go, I’m sitting in my trailer trying to decide what boots to wear. I’ve got a nice pair of cowboy boots my feet look really good in, but I’m concerned about their stability. Two days ago we rehearsed in full rain on the field and the stage became as slick as an ice pond. It was almost impossible to stand on. It was so slick I crashed into Mike Colucci, our cameraman, coming off my knee slide, his camera the only thing that kept me from launching out onto the soggy turf. When Jerry the umpire in “Glory Days” did his bit, he came running out, couldn’t stop himself and executed one of the most painfully perfect “man slips on a banana peel” falls I’ve ever seen. This sent Steve, myself and the entire band into one of the biggest stress-induced laughters of our lives that lasted all the way back to our trailers. (A few Advil and Jerry was okay.)

I better go with the combat boots I always carry. The round toes will give me better braking power than the pointy-toed cowboy boots when I hit the deck. I stuff my boots with two innersoles to make them as fitted as possible, zip them up snuggly around my ankles, stomp around in my trailer a bit and feel pretty grounded. Fifteen minutes…oh, by the way, I’m somewhat nervous. It’s not the usual pre-show jitters, not “butterflies,” it’s not wardrobe malfunction anticipation anxiety, I’m talking about five minutes to beach landing, “Right Stuff” “Lord Don’t Let Me Screw the Pooch in Front of 100 Million People” one of the biggest television audiences since dinosaurs first screwed on earth kind of semi-terror. It only lasts for a minute…I check my hair, spray it with something that turns it into concrete and I’m out the door.

I catch sight of Patti smiling. She’s been my rock all week. I put my arm around her and away we go. They take us by golf cart to a holding tunnel right off the field. The problem is there are a thousand people there, tv cameras, media of all kinds and general chaos. Suddenly, hundreds of people rush by us in a column shouting, cheering…our fans! And tonight also our stage builders. These are “the volunteers”. They’ve been here for two weeks on their own dime in a field day after day, putting together and pulling apart pieces of our stage over and over again, theoretically achieving military precision. Now it’s for real. I hope they’ve got it down because as we’re escorted onto the field, lights in the stadium fully up, the banshee wail of 70,000 screaming football fanatics rising in our ears, there’s nothing there. Nothing…no sound, no lights, no instruments, no stage, nothing but brightly lit unwelcoming green turf. Suddenly an army of ants come from all sides of what seems like nowhere. Each rolling a piece of our lifeline, our earth onto the field. The cavalry has arrived. What takes us on a concert day 8 hours to do is done in five minutes. Unbelieveable. Everything in our world is there…we hope. We gather a few feet off the stage, form a circle of hands, I say a few words drowned out by the crowd and it’s smiles all around. I’ve been in a lot of high stakes situations like this, though not exactly like this, with these people before. It’s stressful, but our band is made for it…and it’s about to begin…so happy warriors we bound up onto the stage.

The NFL stage manager gives me the three minute sign…two minutes…one…there’s a guy jumping up and down on sections of the stage to get them to sit evenly on the grass field…30 seconds…they’re still testing all the speakers and equipment…that’s cutting it close! The lights in the stadium go down. The crowd erupts and Max’s drumbeat opens “10th Avenue.” I feel a white light silhouette Clarence and I for a moment. I hear Roy’s piano. I give “C”‘s hand a pat. I’m on the move tossing my guitar in a high arc for Kevin, my guitar tech, to catch and it’s…”ladies and gentlemen, for the next 12 minutes we will be bringing the righteous and mighty power of the E Street Band into your beautiful home. So…step back from the guacamole dip. Put the chicken fingers down! And turn the TV ALL the way up!” Because, of course, there is just ONE thing I’ve got to know: “IS THERE ANYBODY ALIVE OUT THERE?!”

All I know is if you were standing next to me, you would be. I feel like I’ve just taken a syringe of adrenalin straight to the heart. Before we came out, I had two major concerns. One, something might go wrong beyond my control. That completely disappeared before we hit the stage. Tonight our fate is in the hands of many, so no sense for useless worry. Two, I was worried that I would find myself ‘out’ of myself and not in the moment. My old friend Peter Wolf once said ‘the strangest thing you can do on stage is think about what you’re doing.” This is true. To observe oneself from afar while struggling to bring the moment to life is an unpleasant experience. I’ve had it more than once. It’s an existential problem. Unfortunately, right in my wheel house. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad show. It may be a great one. It just means it might take time, something we don’t have much of tonight. When that happens, I do anything to break it. Tear up the set list, call an audible, make a mistake, anything to get “IN.” That’s what you get paid for, TO BE HERE NOW! The power, potential and volume of your present-ness is a basic rock and roll promise. It’s the essential element that holds the attention of your audience, that gives force, shape and authority to the evening’s events. And however you get there on any given night, that’s the road you take. “IS THERE ANYBODY ALIVE IN HERE?!”…there better be.

I’m on top of the piano (good old boots). I’m down. One…two…three, knee drop in front of the microphone and I’m bending back almost flat on the stage. I close my eyes for a moment and when I open them, I see nothing but blue night sky. No band, no crowd, no stadium. I hear and feel all of it in the form of a great siren like din surrounding me but with my back nearly flat against the stage I see nothing but beautiful night sky with a halo of a thousand stadium suns at its edges. I take several deep breaths and a calm comes over me. I feel myself deeply and happily “IN.”

Since the inception of our band it was our ambition to play for everyone. We’ve achieved a lot but we haven’t achieved that. Our audience remains tribal…that is predominantly white. On occasion, the Inaugural Concert, during a political campaign, touring through Africa in ’88, particularly in Cleveland with President Obama, I looked out and sang “Promised Land” to the audience I intended it for, young people, old people, black, white, brown, cutting across religious and class lines. That’s who I’m singing to today. Today we play for everyone. I pull myself upright with the mike stand back into the world, this world, my world, the one with everybody in it and the stadium, the crowd, my band, my best friends, my wife come rushing into view and it’s “teardrops on the city…”

During “Tenth Avenue” I tell the story of my band…and other things “when the change was made uptown”…. It goes rushing by, then the knee slide. Too much adrenalin, a late drop, too much speed, here I come Mike…BOOM! And I’m onto his camera, the lens implanted into my chest with one leg off the stage. I use his camera to push myself back up and…say it, say it, say it, say it…BLAM! BORN TO RUN…my story…Something bright and hot blows up behind me. I heard there were fireworks. I never saw any. Just the ones going off in my head. I’m out of breath. I try to slow it down. That ain’t gonna happen. I already hear the crowd singing the last eight bars of “Born to Run” oh, oh, oh, oh…then it’s straight into “Working on a Dream”…your story…and mine I hope. Steve is on my right, Patti on my left. I catch a smile and the wonderful choir, The Joyce Garrett Singers, that backed me in Washington during the Inaugural concert is behind us. I turn to see their faces and listen to the sound of their voices…”working on a dream”. Done. Moments later, we’re ripping straight into “Glory Days”…the end of the story. A last party steeped in merry fatalism and some laughs with my old pal, Steve. Jerry the Ump doesn’t fall on his ass tonight. He just throws the yellow penalty flag for the precious 40 seconds we’ve gone overtime…home stretch. Everyone is out front now forming that great line. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch the horns raising their instruments high, my guitar is wheeling around my neck and on the seventh beat, I’m going to Disneyland. I’m already someplace a lot farther and more fun than that. I look around, we’re alive, it’s over, we link arms and take a bow as the stage comes apart beneath our feet. It’s chaos again all the way back to the trailer. A toast…our families, friends, Jon, George, Brendan, Barbara, with Don Mischer, Ricky Kirshner, Glenn Weiss, Charles Coplin, and Dick Ebersol, the great team that put it altogether and the end of a good football game.

The theory of relativity holds. On stage your exhilaration is in direct proportion to the void you’re dancing over. A gig I always looked a little askance at and was a little wary of turned out to have surprising emotional power and resonance for me and my band. It was a high point, a marker of some sort and went up with the biggest shows of our work life. The NFL threw us an anniversary party the likes of which we’d never throw for ourselves (we’re too fussy) with fireworks and everything! In the middle of their football game, they let us hammer out a little part of our story. I love playing long and hard but it was the 35 years in 12 minutes…that was the trick. You start here, you end there, that’s it. That’s the time you’ve got to give it everything you have…12 minutes…give or take a few seconds. The Super Bowl is going to help me sell a few new records, that’s what I wanted because I want people to hear where we are today. It’ll probably put a few extra fannies in the seats and that’s fine. We live high around here and I like to do good business for my record company and concert promoters. But what it’s really about is my band remains one of the mightiest in the land and I want you to know it, we want to show you…because we can.

By 3 am, I am back home, everyone in the house fast asleep and tucked in bed. I am sitting in the yard over an open fire, staring up again into that black night sky, my ears still ringing…”Oh yeah, it’s alright.”

"…Someday we'll look back on this…" Photos by Danny Clinch

"…Someday we'll look back on this…" Photos by Danny Clinch

February, 2009

Read Bruce’s Super Bowl Journal with an album of Danny Clinch’s behind-the-scenes photographs of the event.

Bruce Springsteen, There’s a Reason Why it’s Called the Super Bowl

Friday, Feb 6th, 2009

By Michael Hicks
Berthoud Recorder

We’ll sit in front of the television, we’ll invite over friends and family, and we’ll throw back a few drinks all in the process.

It’s Super Sunday when you and yours get together and for three-plus hours to watch a bunch of multimillion dollar commercials. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. In between all those commercials there’s actually a football game — this year Super Bowl XLIII and a halftime performance by Bruce Springsteen.

Unlike any other sporting event, the NFL’s annual championship game is a big draw. People will stop what they’re doing, even if they don’t care who wins or loses. It’s that big of a spectacle, even if most of the 70,000-plus seats that were sold for this year’s festivities in Tampa, Fla., went to the upper class. Thanks, NFL.

That’s why the Super Bowl is more of a made-for-TV event. It’s pretty much the only way the actual fans will get to see the game because getting a ticket, well, that’s almost as hard, if not more so, than winning the lottery.

But we don’t care. When Faith Hill started singing “America the Beautiful” to the “National Anthem”, sung by Jennifer Hudson, to the opening coin toss with John Elway, Lynn Swann and Roger Craig participating, you almost forget there was a game about to be played. Super Sunday wasn’t a football game. The pomp and circumstance made this an event like none other on the sports calendar all year long.

Not the World Series. Not the Final Four. Not the Stanley Cup finals. Nothing compares to the Super Bowl. Ask most people what happened at the World Series, Final Four or Stanley Cup finals and they’re not likely to tell you much. But ask them about the Super Bowl and they’ll be able to tell you something, even if it was their favorite commercial. That’s the NFL’s media machine working at full speed. How else can you explain it?

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t have much of a rooting interest in the game. The outcome was somewhat meaningless unless you happened to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers or Arizona Cardinals. I’m a fan of neither, though I openly cheered for the underdog Cardinals. Not so much because I wanted to see them win as much as I wanted to see the Steelers lose. But there were more selfish reasons for that as the Steelers shared along with my beloved Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers the record for most Super Bowl titles with five each.

But, truthfully, it didn’t matter which team won the game. By the way, the Steelers won 27-23 and Pittsburgh wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who caught nine passes for 131-yards and the game-winning TD with 42 seconds left, was named the MVP. I was going to watch even if I didn’t have much interest in the outcome. It’s the Super Bowl, and there’s nothing like it.

Bruce Springsteen, Synching: A Necessity or An Artistic Deception?

NEW YORK (AP) — Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill performed to recorded tracks at the Super Bowl. Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman did it at the inauguration. Aretha Franklin sang live — but she’s releasing a do-over.

And Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, according to one report, also played to a recorded track at the Super Bowl, though the vocals were live.

All in the name of perfection. It’s enough to make one feel sorry for Chief Justice John Roberts and his flubbed presidential oath. Couldn’t he have just prerecorded the darned thing, too?

Recorded tracks are hardly a new phenomenon at huge events like the Super Bowl, not to mention the concerts of certain pop stars (the name Britney comes to mind.) But in the past few weeks, a flurry of attention has focused on the practice, first with the inaugural flap and then the Super Bowl.

And though it’s hardly Watergate, or Milli Vanilli, either — remember, they were synching to OTHER people’s voices — some fans are debating anew whether it’s an acceptable practice or an artistic deception.

For the inauguration, the reason for the recorded tracks was clear — the weather — though purists may still consider it a horror that cellist Ma, violinist Perlman and two other musicians were essentially finger-synching (actually, they played, but it was a recording that was projected to the world.)

The Washington air was 28 degrees, meaning instruments could possibly break or at least go out of tune. Pianist Gabriela Montero said that a day before the inauguration, about half a dozen keys on the Steinway were sticking.

Imagine if the musicians had played out of tune, Montero said. “Can you imagine what kind of tone it would have set?”

One avid fan of classical music wasn’t bothered at all.

“I was relieved,” said Elisabeth Avery, 55, who watched on TV. “At the beginning I thought, ‘Are they crazy? They’re gonna play those instruments in that weather?” Gradually, she came to realize the music was not live.

“I don’t like deception, but somehow I didn’t feel deceived,” said Avery, of New York City. “It’s REALLY hard to play when it’s cold.”

Avery did, however, find it a little dishonest that Jennifer Hudson’s stirring national anthem at the Super Bowl was performed to a recording: “My goodness, if you’re an artist, can’t you just get up and sing?”

Avery also wonders what might have happened “if a coyote had suddenly run across the field, or if someone had fainted in front of her. Would she have just kept on singing?”

Pre-game show producer Rickey Minor said at the time that to ensure the quality of the performance, he’d insisted that Hudson and Faith Hill, who sang “America the Beautiful,” use their recorded tracks. Hudson’s publicist, Jessica Kolstad, said the singer’s microphone was on, and she was singing to the track at the request of producers.

Many singers have used backup tracks at Super Bowls, including Whitney Houston’s acclaimed performance in 1991. As talented as a singer can be, it’s extremely difficult to perform optimally in a stadium, said Andy Greene, assistant editor of Rolling Stone magazine.

“The delay is terrible. The sound bounces back. It’s a nightmare,” Greene said. Plus, when you’re playing to a crowd of that magnitude and a TV audience, “you want it to be perfect,” said Greene.

“It’s the biggest crowd these performers have ever played to, bar none,” he said. “It’s the worst possible conditions for the most visible performance of your career.”

Which is why the practice of using recorded tracks is “sort of this dirty little secret of the industry,” Greene said. “It’s been going on for years, but many people are just learning about it.”

Don Mischer, longtime producer of Super Bowl shows, said many artists “absolutely want to go with prerecorded tracks because they worked hard to create a sound, and they want their fans to hear the music the way they intended it.”

“It’s not as if somebody else were playing it,” he said.

Hudson and Hill may not have been the only artists singing to a track at the Super Bowl — the Chicago Tribune reported that Springsteen’s E Street Band was also using a track, although the Boss himself was singing live. Publicists for Springsteen did not respond to several requests for comment.

Whether Springsteen’s beloved band used a recorded track or not, it seems Aretha Franklin may have wished she had one at the inauguration.

The soul superstar, who was dissatisfied with her live performance of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” in the frigid January weather, announced Thursday she’d recorded a “preferred version” to be released this week.

But David Rubeo, a fan of Franklin’s in New York City, has no need for the preferred version — HIS preferred version is the live one.

“It was so much more exciting to watch her live,” said Rubeo, 40, who works at a social services agency. “If there are imperfections, that’s fine. It’s all part of the excitement.”

Until the recent attention to the inauguration and the Super Bowl, Rubeo wasn’t aware of how common recorded tracks are at outdoor events. He understood why the classical musicians in Washington didn’t go live, but as for the Super Bowl, he would have preferred to see Hudson totally live. “Part of the fun is the unpredictability,” he said.

Music writer Matthew Gurewitsch can’t understand the fuss over recorded tracks. Both the inauguration and the Super Bowl, he said, are “not real musical events — it’s all just window dressing.”

“It’s easy to get very worked up and indignant, but part of show business is the willing suspension of disbelief,” said Gurewitsch, who analyzes music on his Web site,

“We go to the movies and we see the special effects and don’t feel cheated,” he said. “It’s all part of the illusion that is show business.”

Associated Press Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.

Bruce Springsteen, ‘Working on a Dream’ (Columbia) — 4 STARS

The Harvard Crimson

Crimson Staff Writer

Ever since Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” five years ago, the Superbowl halftime show has played it safe, replacing young unpredictable rockers with the tried-and-true—wrinkles and all. From Paul McCartney to the Stones, Prince to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, geezers have been belting out 20-, 30-, even 40-year-old tunes to eager football fans. This year’s headliner, Bruce Springsteen, while clearly past his prime, doesn’t have to rely just on old, familiar hits; he is still producing quality new material. His latest album, “Working on a Dream,” may not be his finest, but The Boss has proven, yet again, that at least this old-timer can still rock.

“Working on a Dream,” like Springsteen’s other albums, features songs about the triumphs and downfalls of the low, the poor, the nobodies. Given the country’s current economic upheaval and political change, these songs seem more relevant than ever. The title song, “Working on a Dream,” is uplifting and embodies the spirit of optimism that is prevalent throughout the album. Springsteen sings, “Though it can feel so far away / I’m working on a dream / And our love will make it real someday.”

Throughout the album, Springsteen largely alternates between getting his rock on and slowing down for a softer feel. Like on Springsteen’s previous album “Magic,” the E Street Band is much more prevalent and fleshes out the songs, giving them an epic quality, like on the dark and eight-minute long opener “Outlaw Pete,” a harrowing western tale about a man unable to escape his past.

While their presence is well felt, one thing noticeably absent is Clarence “Big Man” Clemens, whose sax can only be heard at the end of the track “This Life.” This appearance disappoints and fails to even come within striking distance of previous work like that on “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.”

On Springsteen’s softer songs, he continues to tap into the aesthetic of the common American, glorifying the love of everyday people in sympathetic and warmingly familiar terms. This shines through as he sings about a man in love with a supermarket worker in “Queen of the Supermarket.” This song, in collusion with a number of similarly heartfelt tracks on the album, smacks of classic Boss, poeticizing the seemingly banal and imbuing moments of tenderness into otherwise unnoteworthy situations.

Surprisingly, Springsteen’s crowning achievement on the album appears as a bonus track. “The Wrestler,” which is featured at the end of the movie of the same name, paints a hauntingly beautiful picture of a broken man. Throughout the song, Springsteen claims he’s many depressing figures, including “a one armed man punching at nothing but the breeze” and that his only “faith is in the broken bones and bruises I display.” The song is deeply moving, even more so in the context of the film; that it failed to get nominated for an Oscar is an incomprehensible crime.

The Boss will be turning 60 this year, but he still knows how to make a great album. “Working on a Dream” is meaningful, powerful, and thoroughly enjoyable. While he may not be producing the music he used to, no one should have been disappointed that the Boss threw in one of his new songs at the halftime show.

—Staff writer Edward F. Coleman can be reached at

Did Bruce Springsteen’s band pre-record their Super Bowl performance?

They’re not the only ones, apparently

Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band pre-recorded the music that was played during their Super Bowl half-time performance on Sunday (February 1), according to one of the event’s producers.

Apparently the only live element of the performance was the Boss‘ vocals, while the music was laid down ahead of time.

“The Super Bowl performances are all on tape,” producer of Super Bowl pre-game entertainment Hank Neuberger told the Chicago Tribune.

“There is no way you can set up a full band in five minutes with microphones, get all the settings right, and expect to get quality sound,” he said. “The Super Bowl has been doing that for years with virtually all the bands.”

The music for ‘s pre-game performance was also pre-recorded, as previously reported.

Bruce Springsteen, In Non-troversy Over Lip-Synced Super Bowl Half-Time Show

by Andrew Winistorfer

Here’s one for the lip-synced performance non-troversy file: The Chicago Tribune has a story today that reports that the E-Street Band played to a tape at the Super Bowl half-time show. In fact, the only thing not taped was the Boss’ vocals (which is easy to tell since he’s out of breath and talks about chicken fingers). The Tribune has quotes from the music supervisor that basically confirms why they’d have the music performed to tape:

“There is no way you can set up a full band in five minutes with microphones, get all the settings right, and expect to get quality sound,” Neuberger said. “The Super Bowl has been doing that for years with virtually all the bands.”

I’m finding it hard to be outraged here, especially given that people would rather hear a good musical performance that was taped early as opposed to a bad musical performance performed live. And the fact that Yo Yo Ma did the same at the inauguration. I’d be more insulted if I actually paid to see the Boss live and he performed to a tape. Then I’d be pissed. But I have no problem with lip-syncing going on during my beer run. [Daily Swarm]


Bruce Springseen, Super Bowl Photo


Bruce Springsteen’s Some Critics Toss Flags at The Boss’ Super Bowl Act

Thanks to Reuters Blogs

Posted by: Bob Tourtellotte

Writing and reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)

Nobody can deny that rock icon Bruce Springsteen put a lot of sweat into his 12-minute Super Bowl half-time show. But it left the critics still pining for a little more.springsteen1
The New York Times wrote in its review that Springsteen “rose to the occasion, but never above it.”    
The paper noted that Springsteen, whose songs often run longer than the average two-minute pop hit, dropped verses in the four songs he performed during the half-time show, the better to fit them all into his set. 
Todd Martens at the Los Angeles Times music blog Pop & Hiss wrote that the Springsteen show was not a concert “but a teaser — and it was, admittedly, an entertaining one — for Springsteen’s upcoming tour.” 
  Stephen Metcalf at the online magazine wrote that Springsteen misread his television audience with the performance. “The national mood is sober bordering on a galloping panic. Lively as he was, I wouldn’t say the Boss did much to either banish or capture it,” Metcalf wrote. 

And Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribute blog Turn It Up wrote that as entertaining as the show was, it revealed the best and worst of Springsteen. He noted Springsteen’s line telling viewers to put down the guacamole dip, and his play-acting with a referee who ran on stage. “This was Springsteen as song-and-dance man, an accomplished artist reduced to pandering,” Kot wrote.
springsteen2If nothing else, Springsteen proved himself to be flexible for a 59-year-old man, at one point sliding across the stage and into a television camera. Springsteen had been approached for years to play at the Super Bowl, but he always said no until this year. Was it worth the wait?

Bruce Springsteen Enjoys Super Bowl Sales Bump

On Monday, the day after his performance at Super Bowl XLIII, Bruce Springsteen has the two most popular albums on Amazon, for the double- and single-disc versions of his latest album respectively.

By Eliot Van Buskirk

alg_springsteenReleased last Tuesday, Working on a Dream (Deluxe Version) is also the second most popular album in the iTunes music store. Apparently, when it comes to this album, fans just can’t get enough. In both stores, they prefer the deluxe, double-length version of the album.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band electrified spectators with a 12-minute show that kicked off with The Boss’s plea that they “put the chicken fingers down and turn your television all the way up.” The set list contained favorites like “Born to Run” and (of course) the sports anthem “Glory Days,” as well as the title track from Working on a Dream.

Springsteen told the New York Times that he played the Super Bowl mainly to promote the album, and the plan seems to have worked. “At my age it is tough to get word of your music out,” he said, while bemoaning the lack of other good ways to reach new listeners. “If we weren’t doing these big things, there’s no middle things,” he added.

As for the top album on the iTunes charts, that honor belongs to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s recently-released greatest hits album, whose success likely has its roots elsewhere.

He Should Have Played “The Wrestler”


Bruce Springsteen misreads the national mood in his halftime performance.

Nothing will ever compete for sheer tone-deafness with Paul McCartney playing a zealous Super Bowl rendition of “Live and Let Die” at the height of the Iraq war. But Springsteen would have put America on its ass—its mind shortly to follow—had he strolled out with a Martin and played “The Wrestler.” (And how about a nice “This one’s for Danny,” aka Danny Federici, the recently deceased keyboardist who was with Bruce for more than 40 years?) The national mood is sober bordering on a galloping panic. Lively as he was, I wouldn’t say the Boss did much to either banish or capture it