How fitting that Bruce Springsteen’s undervalued 2007 album is called Magic.
One of the many magic tricks of profound and lasting songs is that they feel like they’re as much about the listener as they are anything else in the world. Never mind the artist or the era. It doesn’t matter when they were written or who wrote them, the songs are you.
The wonder and joy of Springsteen on Broadway, released on Netflix this past Sunday just as Springsteen played his last date of the show in New York City, is that he reveals part of how the magic of songs happens by sharing the personal stories that ostensibly created and influenced (or perhaps were disclosed to him in hindsight). These are some of his more memorable songs, songs that feel like our songs, like we wrote them, for so long now. The perfection — which then creates its own type of magic all over again — is that none of the songs lose their weight from these revelations. The songs still have the meaning only with an added dimension. And that’s a hard and dangerous feat to pull for an artist.
Some of the anecdotes from Springsteen on Broadway appear in his recent biography Born to Run but yet are still as touching, beautiful, reflective, and insightful upon second or third admission. A particular memory about Springsteen’s father and a visit before the birth of Bruce’s first child leaves both the artist and likely the viewer in tears. While we all now are allowed Springsteen’s specific point of view behind the music, there’s no still effort to see ourselves in each of the songs. Even more touching is that it takes just as little work to see yourself in the stories between the songs. Perhaps the magic is that we are all one anyway.
For anyone who saw the show in person, it must have been transcendent, being as much about him or her that night as it was about Springsteen himself. Luckily for the millions around the world who missed it, Springsteen on Broadway all has been brought straight to our TVs. It is one of the most remarkable filmed concert experiences.
Like the Boss explains, it’s really in the magic of the equation of 1 + 1 =3. And it’s as beautiful as ever.
Springsteen on Broadway is now streaming on Netflix.