Sociology 205 this semester at Princeton is entitled "Sociology From E Street - Bruce Springsteen's America." It's part of a trend of late, the embracing by academia of Springsteen's impact on American culture and society.
Springsteen has always represented to TigerBlog more than just great music. He's also about having something to say and saying it, and he's also a true rarity in that you can admire the man as much as the entertainer.
TigerBlog did some field research Wednesday night, attending the first in the series of the final concerts at Giants Stadium for The Boss.
And so it was slightly before 8:30 - and nearly 30 years and about a half-mile from when TigerBlog first saw a Springsteen concert - that Springsteen and the E Street Band emerged onto the stage and the giant video screens to the shrieks of "BRUUUUUUUUUUUUCE" that always greet him.
"Evenin', New Jersey," were the first words he said.
He began with a new song written especially for Giants Stadium entitled "Wrecking Ball" and ended more than three hours later with "Rosalita," a song written 36 years ago. It was vintage Springsteen, and TB and the rest of the 60,000 or so in attendance were left in amazement at how a person exactly one week past his 60th birthday could pull something like that off.
The sheer energy that comes from the singer and the band, most of whom were the same who played with him in his Jadwin Gym concert nearly 31 years ago, would be astonishing from people half their age. At the end, TB was left with the same sense as all the other times he's seen him in concert - that there is nothing else in the world that these people would rather do than play their songs, and TB can't really imagine that there's ever been anyone who does anything better than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a concert.
There were so many great moments in the concert, but the unquestioned highlight came in the middle, when he spoke about how the band was going to be playing one entire album during each of its three shows at the stadium this week.
"Friday night, we'll play 'Darkness on the Edge of Town.' Saturday, we'll play 'Born in the U.S.A.' Tonight? ..."
He had already given away what wasn't much of a secret anyway when he'd pulled out his harmonica moments earlier. He never finished his last sentence, never told the audience what it already knew, and he made it official when he took his harmonica and began to play "Thunder Road," the first song (on the first side, back when there were actual albums) of "Born To Run."
For TB, "Born To Run" is the greatest album of all time, and three of the eight songs are among the 10 best TB has ever heard: "Thunder Road," "Born to Run" and "Jungleland." He played all three at Jadwin in 1978, and he played all three again in 2009.
At points during the night, TigerBlog found himself looking around the old stadium, which is dwarfed by the new one nearly completed next to it. TB has been to Giants Stadium many times, including for Princeton football and most recently Princeton lacrosse in the "Big City Classic." The event is scheduled again for next year, and TigerBlog isn't 100% sure if it's in the old stadium, the new stadium or some other venue.
Anyway, TB was struck by the fact that this could be the last time he'd ever see an event at Giants Stadium and, quite possibly, could be the last time he ever went to a Springsteen concert.
At one point, Springsteen mentioned his hometown of Freehold, at which point much of the crowd cheered. Springsteen stopped what he was saying to ad lib that "that was more than the population of Freehold."
TigerBlog grew up next to Freehold, in the 1970s, and basically by requirement, everyone was a Springsteen fan. TB had one teacher in high school who had taught Springsteen, a math teacher who hopefully taught him how to count huge sums of money.
But Springsteen never seems to be about the money, and he never seems to have lost sight of where he comes from. He was completely at home on that stage, and it didn't look like he was having a great time because 60,000 people were loving everything he did.
No, it seemed like he would have been having the same great time had he and the band been the only ones in the building.
Somewhere in there is the sociology of E Street. That's for others to teach and learn, including at Princeton this semester.
For the rest of you, if you've never been to a Springsteen concert, get to one. He's 60, after all, and he can't keep doing it forever. Eventually, the E Street Band will shut it down, and much like the stadium last night, all that will be left will be the memories. For TigerBlog, they'll be memories of a man and a band who achieved perfection in what they did.