The Times-Picayune recently encouraged readers to write a letter to Bruce Springsteen about his 2006 post-Katrina New Orleans Jazz Fest set. The response was overwhelmingly heartfelt. Here’s a sample of a few of the letters received:
“I cannot express enough the emotions I felt during your 2006 Jazz Fest show. I lost my home and everything I owned when my home stewed in 7 feet of water. What was even more painful was losing the things that belonged to my son who died 7 years prior to Katrina. Your performance started the healing process. The power of your voice, your songs, and your band that day will forever be in my heart and soul.”
Your pleas to “rise up” that concluded “My City in Ruins” brought many of us to tears and led me to simply whisper “that was a tough one” in my brother’s ear. Well, that year was a tough one, but little by little, my New Orleans brothers and sisters did just that — rise up. So welcome back, Bruce, and welcome to The E Street Band for Jazz Fest 2012. Bear witness to our comeback, an ongoing urban resurrection that got a much needed jump-start from a guy fronting a hootenanny band on that not-so-lonesome day in April 2006.
Whenever Jazz Fest comes up in our conversation, you and that day are the first topic of conversation. “My Oklahoma Home,” “Eyes on the Prize,” “O Mary Don’t You Weep” and “Jacob’s Ladder” became our anthems. Whenever we went through the muck that was our home, or when construction would bog down, or when our contractor left us unfinished … we’d put on that CD and our spirits would be lifted. You just can’t imagine what your music meant to us.
It. Was. The. Best. Set. We. Have. Ever. Seen. Ever. So powerful, in fact, that it can still summon a shortness of breath, years later, just recollecting and reading the review. Yeah, Bruce, we’re comin’ back. We’ll see you at the Acura Stage.
William Lloyd and Kay A. Pearson