I attended the Bruce Springsteen Concert in Cleveland on Tuesday with my friends Chuck Tobin and Dave Giles.
This is the third time I’ve seen Springsteen. I’m pretty sure it’s Chuck’s third time on this tour. Suffice it to say, it was great. I can understand Chuck’s near obsession.
And as I’ve thought about the concert and Springsteen’s ongoing ability to fill arenas for the last 40 years, I started reflecting on larger lessons on why that’s so. I think there are three big ones.
1. Joy. Springsteen radiates joy in his concerts. He either is having the time of his life onstage or he fakes it better than anyone. I think it’s the former rather than the latter. And that manifests itself not just in the smile on his face, but in larger ways. On this tour, Springsteen has paid tribute to David Bowie (check out his Rebel, Rebel cover) and Glenn Frey (Take it Easy). Springsteen finds joy not only in his performance, but in the works of others. And that is simply infectious. People like to have fun. And being in the presence of joyful people is a fun place to be indeed.
2. Teamwork. The E Street Band has been playing together for over 40 years. And you can’t come away from a Springsteen concert without thinking about Stevie Van Zandt’s guitar and background vocals, Max Weinberg’s drumming or Roy Bittan’s beautiful work on the piano. That doesn’t even mention the “newcomers” like Jake Clemons and Soozie Tyrell. Springsteen generously shares the stage with all of these folks and while he remains the Boss, the total package is phenomenal. And the fact that we know these folks adds to the experience.
3. Empathy. As I noted above with the tributes to Bowie and Frey, Springsteen thinks about more than himself. At the Cleveland concert, a fan seated close to the stage held up a sign that said “Courtney Cox Me!” This was a reference to the classic video for “Dancing in the Dark” video where Springsteen pulled the then unknown actress up to the stage to dance with him (which inspired the Carlton dance). And of course, when they played Dancing in the Dark, Springsteen pulled the sign waving fan up to the stage. Can you imagine how she felt at that moment? How great for Springsteen to notice it and grant her wish.
So joy, teamwork and empathy seem to be pretty key factors to the Boss’s popularity. I’m thinking about how to incorporate them in my day to day practice. It may not get 20,000 people lined up to watch me try a case, but it probably will make me a better person and lawyer.