What Do You Do When Your Best Friend Dies?

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Last night, I scored tix to see Bruce Springsteen at the Amway Arena here in Orlando. I worship the ground The Boss walks upon, so all is great, right? Not so much…

Last week, Springsteen’s keyboard player of 30 plus years, Danny Federici, died of cancer. He wasn’t even 60 years old.

Bruce opened the show with a short documentary of Danny’s life and time with the E Street Band, complete with the studio version of “Blood Brothers” playing behind the video. Tear jerker, as you can imagine.

Bruce started the concert immediately after the short film. And he sounded…tired. Very, very tired. Apparently, to look at him, you learned the same. Everyone wanted to rock…hell, it –WAS- a concert! Thing is, hearing Bruce sounding so worn, I wondered if we, the fans, should be there at all…

Can you even imagine the dynamic here? First, think if you lost your best friend. Other than Marvelyne and Carson, my best friend in this world is DJ Grimwood. If he died tonight, I’d be good for nothing for weeks. Wouldn’t you, if your best friend died?

Now, take that to another level-a bandmate. Not only a friend of 30 years, but a co-worker, too. And that co-worker’s talent and persona is what has helped you be you for over three decades. Poof! Gone! What do you do? Think how many aspects of life would be effected. I know if DJ died, I’d work at my own pace…like, maybe work for an hour, then go cry for the rest of the day. But Bruce doesn’t have a job like that-the show must go on.

And yet? Here’s Springsteen, less than a week after he buried his best friend and bandmate, putting a show on for 20K people. How can he do that? I sure couldn’t. In fact, the whole time he was singing and his fatigue and emotions were showing through, I wanted to take his guitar from him, give him a hug and tel him he shouldn’t have to entertain his fans when he’s mourning.

Do we, as fans, deserve a show at The Boss’ expense? Springsteen has likely been in the lives of his fans for years-I know I first loved him when I heard “Glory Days” for the first time when I was in the fourth grade. He’s almost like a friend. Hell, he IS a friend-he just doesn’t know his friend Marcus exists.

As the show continued, Bruce seemed to gain strength. Next thing ya know, he’s rocking like we’re used to. I was pretty torn…do I sing along and smile and rock out? Or just observe out of respect for the recent loss?

Then, Bruce played “Badlands.” And the line from “Badlands” which always has(and always will) stand out to me?

“It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive…”

I am. And even with the loss, it looks like Bruce is, too.

In the end, maybe the best thing we can do for those who’ve gone before us isn’t pay them homage, but rather honor their memory by doing what they loved in life. In this case, the answer is simple: we rock and roll…

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