Every night before Joe Ross tucks his 3-year-old daughter into bed, he sings her Bruce Springsteen’s “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.” It’s been their routine since Emily was just a few days old.
So when the Lancaster family went to New Jersey for last Thursday’s Springsteen show at Met Life Stadium, Emily brought a hand-made sign asking The Boss if she could join him for her favorite song. Springsteen obliged.
“I was contemplating, is this terrible parenting or is this awesome?” Jeff Ross said in a phone interview. “It turned out to be awesome.”
Jeff was attending his 10th Springsteen show while his wife, Stacey, was at her first. They had tickets for the pit, right in front of the stage. Since it’s standing-room-only there, fans are admitted on a lottery system. The Rosses lucked out, being only 20 numbers behind the fans that got to enter the stadium first.
Early in the concert, guitarist "Little Steven" Van Zandt noticed Emily singing along to a song and pointed her out to Springsteen, Jeff Ross said.
“So Bruce came over during ‘Sherry Darling’ and held her hand and was singing right to her,” Ross said. “A few songs later Bruce is out doing the song requests, and he notices Emily’s sign and takes it. But before he takes it, he leans over and says to me, ‘Can she really do this? Does she know the words?’ And I said, ‘Yes, but Bruce, she’s only 3!’
“So he leans over again and says, ‘Well, before it’s past her bedtime let’s do it. I’ll play that one after the next song so have her ready.’ Sure enough, he starts singing and before the end of the song he pulls her up. I did not know what to expect. She’s either going to stand there and we’re going to hear crickets or…” Ross trailed off.
“She was so relaxed and Bruce was amazing and held her hand through the whole thing. Right on cue, she nailed it. The place went wild. When she was done singing he whispered in her ear and he said, OK, yell ‘Hit it, E Street Band!’ And she did. The place went nuts.”
Springsteen shook his head in amazement as he gave Emily back to her parents.
“Three years old! That’s a new record,” he said, presumably for youngest guest ever to join him on stage.
— Nick Veronica (@NickVeronica) August 29, 2016
Springsteen set another record Thursday, performing his longest American concert to date. He sang for 3 hours and 52 minutes, just 14 minutes shy of all-time mark, set four years ago in Finland.
Emily tapped out after about three hours, Joe said. But her newfound fame made leaving more difficult than expected.
“We had to make our way out of the floor section,” Joe said. “That wasn’t easy because we had to go through like a thousand people. But everyone wanted to stop and high-5 her and take a selfie with her. That was an amazing experience in itself, people saying, ‘Oh my God, that was amazing.’ People were saying they were crying, they were so moved. It literally took us a half hour to get out.
“Then we get to the parking lot and it was, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s that girl!’ And no exaggeration, first thing that happens when we get into the hotel, we’re heading up to the room and someone on the elevator noticed her who left the concert early. Then [Friday morning] we went into the hotel restaurant – and it sounds like I’m making this up because it’s so unbelievable – we walk in and a group of people pointed and said, ‘That’s her,’ and a round of applause broke out throughout the restaurant.
“One man talked to me – I was a little moved by what this one gentleman said – he said he’s been to over 50 Springsteen shows, and he says, ‘I just want to say, your daughter really added something to tonight to make it even extra special, so thank you.’ And I was just like wow, that was really special. I’m a huge Bruce fan and I know he has a huge impact on his fans, but the fact that my 3-year-old could have an impact as well, that was pretty special.”
As for Emily, Joe said she didn’t feel the heat of the moment.
“She just said, ‘Wow, that was really cool.’ I said, ‘Were you nervous?’ And she said, ‘Nope. I was very happy.’”