Having all of Bruce Springsteen’s albums (well, almost all), and trying to attend one of his concerts when he is on tour, does not really qualify one to be counted among his fans. Certainly not when compared to a man who attended the concert in Kilkenny on the last night of the European tour.
The Boss spotted him in the crowd, holding up a red and piece of card the shape of a circus tent requesting a particular song. Taking the card, he read from it the list of the concert dates the man had attended, there seemed dozens. The man’s dedication was extraordinary, Springsteen vouched for the veracity of the list, the man had requested the same song on each occasion, ‘Wild Billy’s Circus Story’ .
There are hundreds of Springsteen songs and trying to remember the album from which the song had come was difficult; the band’s capacity to recall songs at will was impressive.
Looking for something to play in the car, “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” commended itself. Guessing the song to be from the early years, it was quickly located, Springsteen’s second album, “The Wild, the Innocent and the East Street Shuffle”. The music had not dated, only the.photographs of the band members betrayed its vintage. “1973”, said the copyright detail.
1973, forty years ago, forty years gathered in a single tune, a single moment. Instead of being recalled as a series of episodes, forty years as one instalment. A moment of reverie meant altogether missing the track and having to replay it and, even then, being so distracted that a third play was necessary.
If, in 1973, one could have felt a oneness with 2013, how different would the times have felt? The faces staring from the album cover, would they have settled for the years to come? In at least one case, maybe not.
Of course, for many, 1973 is of a one with 2013. The passage of time does not change the person within, does not change the essential self, sometimes not even dispel childhood fears and insecurities. Perhaps the sense of a single moment is not imagined, perhaps it’s a vindication of Einstein’s belief in time complete in a single moment, past, present and future being no more than convenient illusions, illusions that prevent the confusion that would arise if we had a sense of the whole of time happening at once.
Perhaps, in “Wild Billy’s Circus Story”, that most dedicated of East Street Band fans can conjure any moment in forty years. Such a prize would make it worthwhile to travel the world in search of a song.