On Sept. 30, 2009, Bruce Springsteen played the first concert in a five-show stand at a venue he had headlined many times before: Giants Stadium in East Rutherford. The building was scheduled to be demolished early the next year.
I figured he would do something special to mark the occasion. What I couldn’t have predicted is that he’d immortalize the event by writing a song about it.
“This is something I wrote for tonight,” he said (see video below) as he introduced the show’s opening number, “Wrecking Ball.” In the song, he sang from the point of view of the stadium itself, pugnaciously lashing out about its imminent demise: “Take your best shot, let me see what you got/Bring on your wrecking ball.”
I didn’t know if I’d ever hear this anthem again. But he opened all five shows with it, and continued playing it at concerts, and recorded a studio version. He even played it at five of the six concerts he did at MetLife Stadium (the building that replaced Giants Stadium) in 2012 and 2016.
In retrospect, it’s easy to see why he’s stuck with “Wrecking Ball.” The song made a rousing statement that Springsteen, who had just turned 60 when he performed it for the first time, also wanted to make about himself. It’s a statement about resilience, and staying strong even though you “know that come tomorrow, none of this will be here.”
It also happened to be a statement that worked particularly well as the centerpiece of his frequently angry and confrontational Wrecking Ball album — even for fans who had never been to the Meadowlands, and so never had the opportunity to experience those “mosquitoes … big as airplanes.”
Background facts: “Wrecking Ball” is the title track of Bruce Springsteen’s 2012 album. According to Brucebase, he performed it live 193 times between 2009 and 2017.
On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence, though, depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of $10, or any other amount, to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJ Arts Daily to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.