This Sustainable Life
322: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, part 1: Rock and Roll
Growing up in Philadelphia in the 70s meant Bruce Springsteen was a part of my life. I’ll always remember a fan in a promotional radio b-roll clip from one of the classic rock stations saying excitedly, definitively, “He’s the best, he’s Bruce. . . He’s the Boss!”
One of the earliest albums I bought was Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. My high school girlfriend’s older brother saw every show of his he could. I loved the Beatles most as a kid, but I’ve come to appreciate Bruce more over the years. I don’t know anyone else who does anything like him, so raw, open, and honest, yet able to fill stadiums for weeks on end—not in music anyway. Maybe Muhammad Ali. If Woody Allen kept making movies at the Annie Hall level? Fellini? Malcolm X? I’m sure there are others that did the same but didn’t speak to me as personally. Billy Holiday?
I didn’t know his show Springsteen on Broadway was on TV. I watched it and couldn’t believe what I saw—how touching, personal, and meaningful a rock star could make a show. He spoke and sang so personally, the performance defied what I could imagine anyone expecting.
The New York Times review, ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Reveals the Artist, Real and Intense, described it well so I won’t try. Besides, you can watch it.
Wikipedia summarized critical reactions:
The New York Times said “as portraits of artists go, there may never have been anything as real—and beautiful—on Broadway”. Rolling Stone noted “it is one of the most compelling and profound shows by a rock musician in recent memory”. The Guardian observed “there’s a fragility and a new light cast on the songs and his relationship with Scialfa, as if he stands in her emotional shadow”. Variety reported the show “is as much a self-made monument to its master’s vision and hurricane-force ambition as it is to his life and career, and it bears the mark of a self-made man who’ll write his own history”.
On June 10, 2018, Springsteen received a special Tony Award for Springsteen on Broadway.
In his words:
I wanted to do some shows that were as personal and as intimate as possible. I chose Broadway for this project because it has the beautiful old theaters which seemed like the right setting for what I have in mind. In fact, with one or two exceptions, the 960 seats of the Walter Kerr Theatre is probably the smallest venue I’ve played in the last 40 years. My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music. Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung. It loosely follows the arc of my life and my work. All of it together is in pursuit of my constant goal to provide an entertaining evening and to communicate something of value.
Why the title of this blog post: The Joshua Spodek Show?
I’m writing in the throes of inspiration to stop holding back important parts of my life. People keep asking more about me, what motivates me so much to what they see as extreme, but seems normal to me.
My paychecks from NYU and the corporate world kept me from sharing about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Meanwhile, the more I shared, in drips and drabs, the more people appreciated what I shared. Sharing intimate parts of my life led to more coaching clients seeking more rebirth and growth. I haven’t considered these hidden parts meaningful since I thought everyone lived their versions, but I loved hearing Bruce share his on Broadway and realized I loved hearing him share himself his whole life.
Meanwhile, the virus decimated my speaking and workshop business despite it revealing the world’s catastrophic lack of environmental leadership. NYU’s culture of academic, theoretical, compliance-based education increasingly clashes with my active, experiential, project-based way of teaching they give lip service to but don’t practice.
What have I got to lose?
Restoring nature requires change on his scale. Can I do it? I don’t know, but not by holding back.
Last year a couple volunteers who helped with my podcast persuaded me to change the podcast name to the Joshua Spodek Show. I held back because I considered the overlapping topics of leadership and the environment the foreground and myself the background.
For that matter, I sat down years ago to tell my mom, sister, and others close to me about my partying, the girls, and how influential they were in making me me. Nobody had a problem. I still held back.
Springsteen on Broadway led me to say fuck it and share myself. I’ll follow the advice of people who believed in me and the mission that’s swept me up and change the podcast name. I have to figure out how in WordPress and the podcast hosting site so it might take a while. I’m not sure if I’ll try to figure out how to start or just dive in and scuttle my ships like Cortes.
I hope I don’t fuck up. Wish me luck.
- The New York Times review, ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Reveals the Artist, Real and Intense