- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2000

NEW YORK It was the last night of Bruce Springsteen's triumphant world tour 16 sold-out months on the road with the reunited E Street Band. The "boss" and his sidekicks, teary-eyed, held hands as the Madison Square Garden crowd screamed wildly.
"We'll be seeing you," Mr. Springsteen proclaimed after playing their last song quite appropriately, "Blood Brothers."
But when?
Where?
How?
On a live album? A new studio album? A DVD of the Garden shows?
Who knows? When it comes to Mr. Springsteen, who ever knows?
"Springsteen is certainly known for taking his time, changing his mind frequently while he's at it, and often doing the last thing you'd expect," says editor Chris Phillips of Backstreets Magazine, which chronicles all things Springsteen.
"Judging by all the song debuts toward the end of the tour, he's certainly got some great material," he says.
That material includes "American Skin (41 Shots)," the Amadou Diallo-inspired song that prompted the silliest Springsteen controversy since Ronald Reagan interpreted "Born in the USA" as a paean to patriotism.
There were other new songs, too: the nightly show-closer "Land of Hope and Dreams," and three rockers "Further On Up the Road," "Code Of Silence" and "Another Thin Line."
Mr. Springsteen, through his publicist, has said nothing about what's next. The lone hint about the future emanating from the notoriously tightlipped Springsteen camp came courtesy of Little Steven Van Zandt, who took questions from fans on his Web site.
Question No. 1: Would you like to see the E Street Band become a recording act again?
"Yes," Mr. Van Zandt replied.
Question No. 2: What are the chances of that happening?
"I'd take the odds," Mr. Van Zandt said.
After breaking up the E Street Band in 1988, Mr. Springsteen disappeared until releasing two albums simultaneously in 1992 "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town."
He then launched a tour with a new band, leaving fans to lament the absence of the E Streeters. He dabbled in hip-hop music (the result was "Streets of Philadelphia"), and began writing music strictly on his bass.
Mr. Springsteen returned in 1995 but as a solo act, touring small theaters in support of his mostly acoustic "Ghost of Tom Joad" album.
The acclaimed tour featured Mr. Springsteen channeling the spirits of John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie: He occasionally read an excerpt from "The Grapes of Wrath," and performed Mr. Guthrie's "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)."
Mixed in was a brief reunion with the E Streeters to record four songs included on a greatest hits package, followed by the "Tracks" collection. Fans were left wondering if Mr. Springsteen and the band would ever get together for a larger-scale project.
Bruce & Co. emphatically answered the question with their tour of Europe and North America, selling out virtually every stop.
But getting the band back together again is not as simple as it was in the days when everybody was a Jersey guy.
Drummer Max Weinberg has a regular job as band leader for Conan O'Brien's late-night TV show on NBC, while bassist Garry Tallent is a respected Nashville record producer. Mr. Van Zandt the guitarist has become an actor on the hit HBO series "The Sopranos."
Guitarist Nils Lofgren and sax man Clarence Clemons have solo careers. And there are wives and children and commitments that once were not a problem.
"Who knows?" Mr. Phillips asked. "It's a wait-and-see game at this point, and we're taking everything we hear with a grain of salt."

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