Friday, April 04, 2008

Ghosts In The Eyes . . .

Lorenzo Wolff writes:

So my old Buick Le Sabre broke down a bunch of times coming back from gigs or rehearsals in New York and I decided that it’s time to put the old girl to rest. Me and my Pops go down to the local used car dealership and after looking around for a minute we walk into the office and sit down in front of the salesman. He’s a shorter guy with a goatee that was probably hip five or ten years ago, smoking a chewed up cigar and staring at a computer screen, looking tired and a little unhappy that customers are coming in right when he’s trying to close up. He grudgingly starts to talk about what kind of car I want and I mention that I’m a bass player and I play a giant Hartke bass rig, so the car has got to be pretty big. His eyes light up as he puts down his cigar, smiles at me and asks me to follow him into the back room. Through the door and I see six or seven electric basses and a big electric upright on a stand. He tells me that he spent three years of his life as a session bass player, living on the Lower East Side and paying rent (barely) with money from music, and a day job at a guitar store. He never quite got that big break and had to quit for a job with a little more security. I talk to him for a minute about the things that musicians talk about, what kind of strings he uses and what bands he played with, more out of habit than interest. He tells me about the tour than he went on with his band where Blink 182 opened for him, and how he could have made it, if only the guitar player had been a little bit better. Eventually the talk comes back to cars so he shows me a few and I thank him and I leave.

The next day I go to see Bruce Springsteen play at Nassau Coliseum. The crowd files in and the place is packed, I mean more drunk white old people than I’ve ever seen in one place. I’d never been so conscious of being eighteen in my entire life. It’s the Magic tour, so he’s playing with the E Street Band and they sound great. One look at Bruce and you can tell that this is what he was born to do, and this night is special. Just like every night when you step on a stage is special. But for some reason I can’t seem to enjoy myself like I ought to be. There’s something unsettling about the look on Garry Tallent’s face. He looks like a Vietnam vet tonight. Not that fresh shell shocked look, but that look of someone who’s had to think about the war every night, for thirty years. Thinking about his experiences and the experiences of his friends who were chalked onto the MIA column. I try to shake it off as Thunder Road hits the first pre-chorus. “Woa, Come take my hand, riding out tonight to case the promise land…” but Garry still looks exhausted and haggard. When the second chorus dies down I finally know what I’m feeling. I’m not just seeing Garry up there, I’m seeing all of the other bass players who didn’t make it. The old guys in Asbury Park, working at garages, telling anyone who’ll listen that back in 1973 Bruce Springsteen opened for them. And then the third verse starts, and I can hear Bruce’s voice, explaining it to me:

“There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away,
 They haunt this dusty beach road and the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets

(Lorenzo Wolff can be reached at lorenzowolff@gmail.com)

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2 Comments:

Blogger Tor Hershman said...

Moi thinks this explains it to a greater degree

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LubuSAgB5s


.

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