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WOODSTOCK, DAY TWO
Once upon a time...at Yasgur's farm (8/16a)
RAINMAKERS: THEY CONTROL THE WEATHER
This is no ordinary doorstop. (8/15a)
SONG REVENUE CHART: DOG DAYS
But things will liven up soon. (8/16a)
A PRESEASON
HITS LIST
The biz is getting its game face on. (8/16a)
GRAMMY CHEW: COMING IN
UNDER THE WIRE
More speculation over lox and bagels (8/16a)
HEAT!
Seriously, we can't take off any more clothes at the office.
DOLDRUMS!
Nothing doing.       
LUNCH!
Well, what do YOU want?      
VACATION!
Badly needed.     
Critics' Choice
SPRINGSTEEN ON FILM:
A FATHER'S STORY
12/7/18

By Phil Gallo

“Long Time Comin’” is not what anyone would call a key piece of the Bruce Springsteen catalog. He wrote it in the mid-1990s and played it live, but didn’t record and release the song until 2005’s Devils and Dust.

He added the song to his Springsteen on Broadway set a year ago, along with “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” to play on nights his wife, Patti Scialfa, was unable to make it to the Walter Kerr Theater to sing their two duets.

In Thom Zimny’s film of Springsteen on Broadway, which opens a limited theatrical run in New York and L.A. today and premieres 12/16 on Netflix, it amps up Springsteen’s notion that his father has been a driving force in his art, perhaps more than any singular figure.

He talks about his father early in the show, between “My Hometown” and “My Father’s House,” and, in the film, returns to the subject by singing about a fictional young man, the product of an absentee pop with kids of his own.

He sings: “Now down below and pullin' on my shirt/I got some kids of my own. 

"Well if I had one wish in this god forsaken world, kids,  it'd be that your mistakes would be your own./Yea, your sins would be your own.”

The addition of “Long Time Comin’” and “Tom Joad” sitting alongside the Bruce-Patti duets on “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise” gives the film a different weight than the stage show—not to mention a longer runtime. It’s heavier on film than it was live.

Everything about the stage show is presented the way Springsteen has played it over 236 nights since October 2017: the stories about growing up Catholic with a hard-working mother; his ambitions to use song to define himself and what it means to be an American; the friends he lost in Vietnam; his bandmates; and his purpose in life.

It’s rich and detailed, Zimny’s camera keeping the focus tight on the lone performer after establishing shots early on. Via that intense intimacy, we watch Springsteen coming to terms with his father, the identity behind so many of his song’s characters—the factory workers, men without options, the family men who avoid emotional connections. Springsteen’s father, Doug, he says, is “my hero and my greatest foe.”

Nothing beyond what theater-goers have been seeing has been added to the film. On the two nights Zimny shot in front of an invited audience, Bruce was a little loosey-goosey with the script, dropping f-bombs and veering toward the political in a way that reviewers did not see when it opened 14 months ago.

The show builds as any solid Broadway musical should, the final impact being a medley of “Dancing in the Dark” and “Land of Hope and Dreams” that works as well as any classic Broadway 11 o’clock number. “You’ve provided me with a purpose,” he says in the segue leading into the songs. “I hope I’ve been a good traveling companion.”  The vitality and joy in his voice says this journey still has miles to go.