I have seen the past of rock ‘n’ roll, and his name is Bruce Springsteen. Most of the halftime-show chatter at the Super Bowl party I attended concerned the Boss’ somewhat advance age and nonetheless clearly robust physical health — the implausibility of those deep-knee bends, the remarkable grace and dexterity required to execute the crotch-slide-into-camera maneuver, whether he ought to suit up for the Cardinals’ secondary, etc.
The Super Bowl’s classic-rock fixation is a major problem, but in their defense, who are you sending out there instead? The Fray? Kings of Leon? Metallica? (Intriguing, actually, but they don’t exactly solve the Youth Problem.) In any event this ain’t Bruce’s problem, and I found him to be pleasantly manic: He demanded that we unhand our chicken wings, busted everyone’s hypothetical set lists by opening with “10th Avenue Freeze-Out,” indulged the gospel choir that apparently follows him wherever he goes, used about 50 different microphones, and occasionally shared one with Little Stevie, still one of my favorite images in the rock ‘n’ roll canon. (He also played “Born to Run,” possibly the single best song in the rock ‘n’ roll canon.) Final analysis: nowhere near as delightfully weird as Prince, nowhere near as rousing/pandering as U2, nowhere near as embarrassing as Paul McCartney. “Glory Days” was a wistfully backward-looking anthem upon its release, in fuckin’ 1984 — we can worry about how it’s the best we had to offer in 2009 later. For now, let us bow in deference to the best we had to offer.