Sing Sha La La La
Summer of '03 and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band are on world tour. Living here in the greater New York area usually means we get an overload of shows. This summer was no exception. In fact, between NY, NJ and Philly we got 16 Stadium shows between July and the beginning of October. Fantastic stuff for a fanatic like myself. Out of these 16 shows I managed to catch seven. I would have caught more except my father decided to get married on one of the Saturday nights and Shea Stadium is a fucking dump that I refused to travel to more than once and I only did that because it was the final night of the tour.
I was lucky enough to snag some really good floor seats for the final show of the ten night, Giants Stadium run. About 35 rows back of the stage. Now granted, I've stood with my arms literally resting on the stage for Bruce shows but these would do nicely for this one.
I was bar tending at the time. A fucking job I hated as much for the people I dealt with as for the location itself. Inside the most pretentious mall on the East Coast, and busy from the time the doors opened until we shut them again twelve hours later. I invited one of the other bartenders to come along to the show. Paul was in his 40's at the time, older than me by many years, but acted as if he were 22 at all times. I knew I'd have a blast with him.
We take our seats and the show begins. This was a hot night! Bruce dropped some of the slower tunes and really cranked it up. At that point I'd seen about 15 Springsteen shows and got to hear five or six tunes for the first time ever. Very cool.
Anyway, Paul and I are having a great time and the show nears the two hour and forty fifth minute. The band is taking its' final bows as the crowd chants for "one more song." Bruce steps to the mic and thanks everyone for coming out over the ten nights and says they are gonna play one more song for us. I think he called it a "summer song"
The first notes of "Jersey Girl" come pouring out from the stage. The crowd goes ballistic..... A little back story here.... "Jersey Girl" is originally a Tom Waits tune. Bruce got a hold of it back in the mid eighties, added a third verse, and really made it his own. In fact, it sounds like a song Bruce would have written. Even though it's a crowd favorite it hardly ever shows up on the setlist. In fact, since 1993, he's only played it three times total. (By coincidence I've been there every time)
So the crowd is going ape shit. Guys are dancing with their girls, girls are screaming, people are just LOVING every minute of it. The house lights are on and I'm looking around, taking the entire scene in as I take a moment to glance over at Paul. As I do, I notice he's rubbing his right eye. At least I THOUGHT he was rubbing his eye. The bastard is CRYING! He's wiping the tears away!
"HOLY SHIT!", I yell, as he pulls himself together.
"You're crying! You homo!"
"Fuck you I am.... God Damned mosquitoes! We are in the swamps here you know?"
I let it go and watched the end of the show giggling my ass off. On the ride home Paul admits that he was in fact swept up in the moment and did drop a tear or two. He makes me swear I won't tell anyone at work and I agree not to... After all, I wouldn't know where to begin with that!
Six days later I'm at my buddy's house in preparation of his upcoming wedding. His mother needs an errand run so I take off to the mall with his sister. Of course, to the exact mall I'm enjoying my day off from. We get there and park at the Bloomingdale's entrance. (The entrance the restaurant is at) As we pass the doors of the place I glance in and see Paul working a busy lunch shift. With my head hung low I manage to get past the front doors without being spotted and we head off in search of whatever it was we came to get.
As we're walking around this idea comes to me.... Not sure where it came from but I know it was somewhere evil. I try in vain to rope my companion into the idea. After all, she was the one that really needed to be one board. This was a two person plan from the jump.
She says, "I can't... I mean there's no way."
I start begging and pleading with her. A disgusting display of very un-manly behavior. She won't budge. Finally, we're back in Bloomingdale's, on our way out of the mall. I decided to take one more shot and did so in a very mature way.... I called her "a wuss"
"A wuss?" she says.
"Yeah, a wuss. BIG TIME, wuss!"
We walked a few more feet and then she just stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me. I'll never forget the look in her eyes. It was one of the most intense things I'd ever seen. "Fuck it!" she announces and takes off, walking double speed back towards the inner mall away from me. With me in pursuit, she goes down the escalator and right into the restaurant, coming to rest at the only empty bar stool in the place.... Right in front of Paul.
At this point I'm outside, about 30 yards away, hiding in a fake mall tree, watching the scene play out just as I'd been pitching it for the last hour.
Paul greets her immediately as he would with any attractive girl. A big, goofy smile on his face. His bald head shining a bit from all the running around he was doing. The bar was PACKED with people sitting everywhere. The only seat open was that one.... This was fate I tell you.
PAUL: Hi! Can I get you a menu.
HER: Just a glass of water for the moment.
He gets her the water and hands it to her along with the menu.
PAUL: I'll leave this here. Just give me a call when you're ready. I'm Paul.
Another minute passes and she's just staring at him smiling. He glances over and starts smiling back.
HER: This sounds crazy but.... Did I see you at the Bruce Springsteen show on Sunday?
PAUL: Yeah! I was there!
HER: On the floor?
PAUL: Yeah! How cool is that? You were there? Great show.... GREAT show!
HER: I thought that was you! My friends and I saw you... You were the guy crying during "Jersey Girl!"
Paul hung his head down, the top of it turning the darkest shade of red I'd ever seen. The next sound he heard was me clapping as I walked into the bar. He looked up and smiled.... That type of smile that says "I hope you fucking die"
She and I took off before he could say anything, the people sitting around her now smiling at Paul as he was still reeling.
We got as far the parking garage before my phone rang. I answered it and before I could say hello I heard this....
"You're dead.... A fucking dead man. Not sure how, not sure when...but revenge will be mine."
Well, I'm still waiting. However, I'm more than sure he's still planning. A fact repeated to me a couple of years later when I retold the story to his wife's family at a barbecue.
Oh well, it was worth it and now through the magic of YOU TUBE, I present the excact performance of the song.
If you listen closely you can here a grown man weep.... Sing, sha la la la