Bruce Springsteen Bridge School Benefit Concert 1986 Album Review

Updated on September 9, 2019
MarshFish profile image

Marshall Fish is a remote trivia writer for Hasbro, Screenlife Games, and other pop culture websites.

In October 1986, Neil and Pegi Young presented the inaugural concert in Mountain View, California benefiting The Bridge School for children with severe speech and physical impairments. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Don Henley, Tom Petty, and Nils Lofgren were on the bill to perform all acoustic sets, with Robin Williams adding a comedy monologue. Rounding out the bill was Bruce Springsteen, in his first concert appearance since the successful “Born in the U.S.A.” stadium tour ended one year earlier.

Springsteen’s Bridge School set is one of the newest releases from’s official monthly archive Boss titles available on disc or download. Clocking in at 58 minutes, the 10 song Bridge School title provides an extremely entertaining Springsteen listening experience.

When this Shoreline Amphitheatre concert took place, Springsteen was arguably the biggest rock star in the world. His “Born in the U.S.A.” had topped album charts in America, Canada, Australia, the U.K., Germany, Sweden and other countries. Its supporting global tour filled arenas and stadiums for 15 months in 1984 and 1985. A month after The Bridge School concert, the “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live/1975-1985” box set would debut at number one on the U.S. Billboard album chart.

Bruce Springsteen-Bridge School Benefit Concert
Bruce Springsteen-Bridge School Benefit Concert | Source

The Bridge School album features a loose and relaxed Springsteen. He’s joined by E Street Band members Nils Lofgren on guitar and vocals and Dan Federici on accordion for eight of the songs. It’s a set that includes short stories before the tunes, similar to 1970s and 1980s Springsteen concerts.

A few of the songs are performed a bit differently from the released versions. “Seeds” from “Live/1975-1985” is played using the melody of the “Born in the U.S.A.” outtake, “Rockaway the Days”, found on Springsteen’s 1998 “Tracks” box set. “Born in the U.S.A.” itself has more of a blues-oriented sound than the recorded take. Springsteen introduces the tune as “a snake that came around and began to eat its tail”. So, the idea of it being a patriotic anthem is dispelled right there.

“Dancing in the Dark” seems slightly more subdued vocally at times from the official track, but then you get short bursts of emotion coming to the fore (“Wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face”). Lofgren adds some nice response vocals at the end of the song, when crooning “Even if we’re just dancing” after The Boss sings “Even if we’re just dancing in the dark”. Federici’s accordion takes over for E Street saxophonist Clarence Clemons’ song ending solo.

Born in the U.S.A.

Several amusing moments can be found on the disc, too. In the intro to “Seeds”, Springsteen jokingly calls out for his E Street sidekick Clemons by saying, “Big Man, where are you when I need you?” During the start of “Fire”, Lofgren’s guitar is out of tune. So, Federici performs a snippet of Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll” on the accordion to fill up the time, while Lofgren switches guitars. Earlier in the show, Federici played a bit of “Lady of Spain” when The Boss also needed to change guitars. Prior to beginning “Hungry Heart” with onstage guests Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Neil Young shouts out "Bruuuce". Springsteen replies, “What if my name was Ralph? What’d happen then? That wouldn’t work as good”.


The 1987 music video of “Fire”, used to promote the second single from “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live/1975-1985”, was taped at this concert. On The Bridge School album, it’s an enjoyable track that stands on its own, even without the accompanying visuals. Plus, you still have the song’s false starts and the break in the middle where The Boss tells the audience he has to stay calm because it’s an acoustic set. But that’s not in the cards, as this is the energetic, rockin’ Boss. Springsteen and Lofgren’s vocals blend together well again during the second half of the song.

Follow That Dream

The highlight of the set is “Follow That Dream”, Springsteen’s reworking of the title song from one of Elvis Presley’s 1962 films. While Presley’s song is jaunty and peppy with background vocals from The Jordanaires, Springsteen’s version is more touching and puts a lump in the throat. Different lyrics are added to The King’s tune, with a “don’t give up” type feeling conveyed. That’s especially true in the lines “Now every one has the right to live/The right to a chance, to give what they have to give/ The right to fight for the things they believe/For the things that come to them in dreams”. Springsteen first performed the song during his 1981 European tour. He dedicates The Bridge School rendition to Neil and Pegi Young.

Left out from the CD and download is a finale of Springsteen and all the performers for “Teach Your Children”. The Boss also joined Neil Young at the beginning of the concert on a duet of the CSNY track, “Helpless”, not available here either.

The album’s sound is quite good , mixed by Don Pearson and Tim Mulligan. The opening part of the a capella “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” was missing from the master recording, so fan recordings and an alternate soundboard source were used. The mixture of the different sound sources is pretty seamless, and you wouldn’t know the difference unless you were really looking for it.

The only Springsteen Bridge School track officially released previously to the set was the rendition of “Born in the U.S.A." on a 25th anniversary CD and DVD of the shows. It would be nice if the full 1986 concert with all the night’s performers could be issued on audio and video, with some proceeds to the school, too. An unauthorized video of the event has made the collector’s rounds over the years.

Two dollars from the sale of each copy of this recording will go to The Bridge School. The release is dedicated to Elliot Roberts, Neil Young’s manager, who passed away in June 2019.

The northern California Bridge School benefit concerts may have ended in 2016, but this album helps to bring back part of the magic from the first show. Recommended for followers of The Boss and music fans in general.

Danny Federici and Bruce Springsteen-Bridge School Benefit concert
Danny Federici and Bruce Springsteen-Bridge School Benefit concert | Source
Bruce Springsteen and Nils Lofgren-Bridge School Benefit concert
Bruce Springsteen and Nils Lofgren-Bridge School Benefit concert | Source

© 2019 Marshall Fish


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)