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"Stories in the Stones"

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Jets and Cartwheels

A Wonder Women Day Trip

On a Rooftop In Morocco

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Bruce Springsteen
Ozzy Ozbourne
Lenny Kravitz
Roy Clark
Marilyn Manson
Amy Grant



She's Come Undone
The Hand I Fan With
Only Twice I've Wished For Heaven

The Pantagraph
October 2, 1996

Bruce Springsteen shows Normal just who is the Boss

By Karen Strawn
Special to The Pantagraph

   It was Bruce Springsteen’s idea to come to Normal and perform at Illinois State University’s Braden Auditorium because he was specifically seeking intimate arenas with excellent acoustics to share music from his latest album “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

   Although the concert was sold out in record time (only two hours), there were 200 tickets available at the box office before the show Tuesday night. It seems that Springsteen had some tickets saved for personal use that he let go at the last minute.

   Lucky for the 200-plus people who got in to see this one-of-a-kind, truly magnificent performance – and lucky for the other 3,200 or so who already had their tickets in hand.

   Because Springsteen’s lifestyle (oh sorry, he said he hates that word) has changed since becoming a parent (he’s the father of three), his music has changed, and Tuesday night’s performance was a perfect example of how awesome life can be when you’ve lived long enough to appreciate the finer things.

   Between songs (which are really short stories), Springsteen talked to the audience, and it was such an intimate setting it felt like he was sitting around just talking to you.

   He started playing at 8 p.m. and didn’t stop until 10 p.m. Then he came back on for two encores – the first he played four songs. He gave the audience his heart and soul.

   It was just Springsteen on stage, alone with his guitars (he had four which he kept switching between each song) and harmonicas (he had several of them too), singing from his heart about what he said were issues that concern this deeply fractured nation where compassion and justice mean nothing and the hearts of men are filled with greed and selfish ambition.

   Even though he never sang it, the title track off his latest compact disc “The Ghost of Tom Joad” set the mood for the entire evening.

   The song borrows from the character, Tom Joad’s final speech in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

“No Tom said, ‘Mom, wherever there’s a cop beating’ a guy/wherever a hungry newborn baby cries/where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air/look for me Mom I’ll be there.”’

   His first song was an old Woody Guthrie tune, “Tom Joad.” He then went on to sing “Atlantic City” from his “Nebraska” album.

   He did give the audience a hard time about living in “Normal” and joked about it for a while between the second and third songs. But by the end of the concert, Springsteen told the audience how much he enjoyed being here and thanked the audience for “giving me the space to do this,” he said. “It’s your gift to me.”

   The whole concert was perfectly orchestrated – right after Springsteen started getting a little rowdy with his songs, he sprung “Red-Headed Woman” on the audience, which is a song honoring the finer things in life - red-headed women (by the way, Springsteen’s wife, Patti, has red hair.)

   The 46-year-old Springsteen seems relieved to be touring solo without his E-Street Band. In an interview with USA Today, Springsteen said, “It’s an adventurous evening for me. I really get to sing the way I like to sing, which I haven’t completely done in years because I’m usually shouting over the band.”




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