I love Bruce Springsteen. People who don’t know me well say, “You’re such a groupie.” People who do know me know that is so not true. What’s true is I love what Bruce stands for, how he shows up in the world, and what he promises everyone who comes to his show.
I also love the music, but that’s not what he’s selling. His brand is bigger than the music.
What a brand isn’t: The widgets you sell. What a brand is: The thing you’re really selling. Bruce isn’t selling songs.
I can get songs from lots of musicians. When I go to a Springsteen show, I get a tsunami of rock, watching Bruce play for us as if we all just showed up in his garage, and a shot of pure adrenaline straight into my heart.
What I really go for is the feeling Bruce delivers along with the killer songs and sing-along-vibe: Joy. Hope. Inspiration. I go because watching him makes me want to get my ass up out the chair and dance.
Bruce’s brand promise
He promises us when we drink from the river of rock and roll, we will be free, we’ll see a possibility that hadn’t occurred to us before, and we’ll jump on the Turnpike and start driving toward it.
I don’t know what Bruce believes he’s selling, but I make up it’s what he wants for himself and all of us because he almost got caught in the dead zone growing up in Freehold, N.J.:
- To be the opposite of a walking dead person.
- To know what your gift is and then express it.
- To have the courage to bust loose and go for what your heart demands of you.
… someday girl I don’t know when
we’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
and we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
baby we were born to run
This is what aliveness looks like: You know what your job is in the world, why you were put on this crazy ball of dirt spinning in space, and you have the balls to get up every day and do your job.
I believe it’s what our purpose is as humans. It’s easier for some of us than others. I wasn’t one of those people for whom it was easy.
But now I know. My job is to guide others to know what their job is in the world and then get lit up about it enough to go forth and do it. Rinse and repeat.
When we as humans stop making mischief with ourselves and others and simply do our jobs in the world, it blows the roof off, which is what happens at a Springsteen concert. If were just about playing tunes, it might as well be a factory job.
What makes Bruce so special?
At every show, Bruce is present, in the moment, and playing the “let’s put on a show” game fully because that’s what makes all the difference.
We can tell because we can feel it. He’s in all the way, every time, doing what he does best. It’s a lesson for all of us whether we’re playing to 25 thousand people or one.
I’ve been to hundreds of Springsteen shows over the years, from London to Connecticut, from bars at the Jersey shore to the former Olympic stadium in Barcelona. At this point, I believe he’d recognize me if we bumped into each other at the hardware store.
Every show is different but Bruce delivers on his brand promise every time. He promises us if we go with him on his ride and play with him 100 percent, we’ll feel the joy, too.
I have two tickets for the show on Jan. 29 in Washington, D.C. When he asks us, “Is there anybody alive out there?” We all say, “Hell, yeah.”
What’s your brand’s promise?