1972-04-00 Freehold Township High School, Freehold, NJ

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Scheduled: ??:?? Local Start Time ??:?? / End Time ??:??

Info & Setlist | Venue

Springsteen gives an unadvertised 45-minute solo performance (on a grand piano rented specifically for Bruce by promoter Victor Wasylczenko). Headliner for this show was Sunny Jim, with Tumbleweed the opener. It should be noted that there were two high schools serving the Freehold area and Freehold Township High School is not the one Bruce graduated from in June 1967. Springsteen performed in between both groups and he ended his performance with "Down To The Riverside", a song Bruce mentioned to the audience he had just written. This composition is known from a soundboard recording of a gig at The Back Door in Richmond, VA from February 25, 1972 as well as Appel-Cretecos song inventory documents (it hasn't surfaced among the pool of early demos Bruce recorded). The song is also known as "Grandpa's Gone Down" - see the February 25 entry for more details. The remaining song titles Bruce played during this show are unverified. It is not certain if this information in fact refers to the gig listed at February 17.

Described in Bruce! by Peter Ames Carlin: "Bruce started doing this song with mommy-daddy words, like he was singing in a little kid's voice", Wasylczenko recalls. The lyrics describe a man and boy walking hand in hand to fish in a lake, but they could just as easily have been on one of Fred Springsteen's regular hunts for radio parts in the neighborhood trash cans. "You felt this incredible love the boy has for his grandfather, all in his description of this little fishing trip". The audience nodded along with Bruce's gently strummed vision right up until the song's final verse, which follows the boy walking home from school a few days later. "He describes coming to their family home", Wasylczenko continues. "He's walking across the porch and being stunned by something he sees in the living room". When the boy finally reaches his mother, his question serves as the song's crushing climax. "He asks, 'Mommy, why is Grandpa sleeping in a box?' And it stunned the audience", Wasylczenko says. "I mean, the room was silent. No one applauded. They were just…breathless. Bruce turned away quickly, and I could see tears running down his face. I don't think he ever played that song again".

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