From Sondheim to Springsteen – I’m in a New York state of mind


I must be in a New York state of mind.  Tonight I’ll be watching the boss strut his stuff in Hyde Park, last night I sat in the Bridewell Theatre and heard a new interpretation of twenty of so Sondheim songs.

Ok – so Bruce is from New Jersey and Sondheim was born somewhere in Pennsylvania, but to me they’re from one great metropolis.

It’s a privilidge to get to see both shows. Though we paid a tenth to see Sondheim performed by Sedos – an amateur troupe , I’m happy to splash out on Springsteen for the joy he’ll bring us. Having seen him in Villa Park Birmingham last month, I know what I’m getting tonight – it will be worth it.

Sondheim represents intellect and a middle class value set where the arts are foremost. Though Springsteen has performed on Broadway, he is from another culture, the Wild the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle.

Sondheim died in 2021, his songs are his legacy and we heard them performed last night with an immediacy that brought us both the intimate subtleties of his music and words. There were perhaps 150 of us, squeezed into the sold out Bridewell.

Springsteen is very much alive and will be playing to 50,000 people. His songs range from the expansive (Born to Run) , to the confined (Candy’s Room). Like Sondheim, he sings of love and loss.

When Darkness on the Edge of Town came out, I was finishing my O levels. The album knocked me out, perhaps like no other. It still hits me like a hammer.  Whether I have my buds in or I’m watching the boss himself, those opening chords of Badlands make me 16 again.

Google Springsteen and Sondheim and nothing comes up. Though they are contemporaries , they never seem to have interacted, their  music has no cross-over, their values seem to be in different paradigms.

But within 24 hours, these two great East Coast songwriters will have dominated my consciousness. Music cuts through the particulars – great music like theirs – speaks to us in the same way


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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