This quote is just beautiful writing, and a fascinating question I cannot answer about greatness.
I watched Springsteen very closely when he performed “Born to Run” toward the end of the show. I watched the close-ups of his face on the video screen, and I watched the way he moved around the stage, and I listened carefully to the pitch of his voice. My God, how many times has Bruce Springsteen performed this song by now? The album “Born to Run” came out in 1975, almost 33 years ago, and he performed the song even before the album came out. So has he performed it live 5,000 times? I’ll bet it’s been more. Maybe 7,500 times? Maybe 10,000 times?
There are certain professional things we have all done thousands of times. I know truck drivers who have driven more than three million miles. We all do. We know doctors who have delivered thousands of babies, and mechanics who have fixed thousands of cars, and chefs who have grilled thousands of steaks and all that. But Springsteen’s repetitions is a little different, and not just because Springsteen gets paid a lot more money to sing “Born to Run”, and not just because he gets many more perks and shrieking women and whatever. It’s because every single time Bruce Springsteen performs that song, there are thousands and thousands of people in the crowd that want a transcendent moment. That’s his song, but it’s also our song, it has meant something important to countless people. We will know if he means it.