By Bruce Springsteen
I think I work pretty hard. I'm well into my 60s, and I still get out and tour the world when a lot of musicians my age are content to reflect on past achievements and collect easy money when it comes. Not me, brother. Sure, being a quote-unquote rock star certainly comes with its share of perks. But entertaining 20,000 people isn't as easy as it might look. I still play my guts out every night like my life depends on it.
Yet, every time I set foot onstage, or when the E Street Band finishes a song, I hear the same thing: thousands of people booing me and the musicians that I've been playing alongside all these years.
Doesn't matter what song it is. It could be an older classic like "Born to Run," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" or "Rosalita." Booooooooo! Or more recent material such as "We Take Care of Our Own," "High Hopes" or "Radio Nowhere." Same thing: Booooooooo!
It starts as soon as the lights go down and the band walks out. From every corner of the room, people just boo. I've been doing this for a while, and I can handle honest criticism, but this kind of greeting doesn't really get me excited to perform.
On this tour, we've been playing "The River" in its entirety. That was an important album for us, and it was pretty well-received when it came out. The songs on that record -- "Ties That Bind," "Hungry Heart," "Out in the Street," "Fade Away" -- have always meant a lot to me and, even though my opinion is obviously biased, still hold up pretty well. But what does the crowd think? You guessed it: Booooooooo!
Now that I think about it, I seem to remember this starting a long time ago, back when I was still grinding away in clubs on the East Coast, struggling to make a name for myself. By the time the E Street Band was coming together in the early to mid-70s and we started playing some bigger venues, people were booing me pretty regularly at shows. I saw it as a challenge. It built character and motivated me to work harder.
But even when we hit it big with "Born to Run" in 1975 and straight on through "Born in the USA" in the mid-'80s -- the span that is considered our golden period -- people still booed. That was more than 30 years ago, and nothing's changed. Now I'm a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which you'd think would close the book on this discussion. But no. The weird thing is, this doesn't really seem to happen with anybody else. I've never heard Bob Seger get booed. Neil Young doesn't have to deal with this every night of his life. Prince plays even more shows than I do. Do you go and boo Prince? Didn't think so.
I mean, everyone's entitled to his or her opinion. There's certainly a lot of music out there that just doesn't do it for me. But why would you buy a concert ticket -- which, admittedly, is pricier than it used to be -- then take work off or get a sitter and drive all the way to an arena if you're going to boo the artist? It doesn't make sense. Sometimes I look out in the audience and some of the same people booing are even holding up signs that say how much they like me! What's that all about?
Anyway, it's very discouraging. Imagine if you were just trying to do your job, and there were thousands of people going "booooooooo" the whole time. Doesn't sound fun, does it? Frankly, it makes me wonder how long I want to keep doing this if I know I'll never win your approval.
Try to show a little more respect.
Bruce Springsteen is a musician from New Jersey. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of That's Unfortunate or its corporate partners.