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The story of Bruce Springsteen's dinner with a St. Louis fan

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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Chaifetz Arena

Rick Eisen and Jack Eisen, both of St. Louis, hold up a sign for their friend Sophie Satanovsky, 90, because she was unable to attend the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

Bruce Springsteen re-told the story of meeting a fan in St. Louis, and then going to his house, on the Graham Norton Show over the weekend. Here, from August 2005, is a Post-Dispatch article of that meeting, and Springsteen's connections with other local fans:

By Vahe Gregorian, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Twenty-five years ago, Sophie Satanovsky's children, Steve and Lisa, ushered a scruffy fellow with cutoff sleeves and a bandanna around his head into their Creve Coeur home. When they introduced him as Bruce Springsteen, Satanovsky replied, "Right — and I'm Raquel Welch."

She believed them only after Springsteen showed her his credit cards, and Steve held a Springsteen album next to his face. Then Sophie Satanovsky scolded her son for letting a stranger into their car — and also admonished Springsteen.

"He said, 'They looked like good kids to me,'" Sophie Satanovsky said.

It was Oct. 16, 1980, the night before Springsteen would play back-to-back concerts at the Kiel Opera House. The improbable trio met hours earlier at Brentwood Theater before a showing of Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories." Steve recognized Springsteen and gulped the courage to ask if he wanted company.

Springsteen sat between Steve and Lisa as they watched the film ... about overzealous fans. Afterward, Springsteen planned to call a cab but accepted a ride with them to his downtown hotel, including a detour to meet their parents in the suburbs.

"He was very likable, very sociable," Sophie Satanovsky, now 80, said. "He was easy company to be with."

The Satanovskys' account is the stuff of legend. Springsteen publicists could not verify it, but Lisa Satanovsky has photos and a tape of a song dedicated to Steve, and the family's details echo versions Springsteen has told — even if he once placed the episode in Denver.

The tale is one of several connections between Springsteen and area fans, who still revere him about 30 years since "Born to Run" put him on the covers of Time and Newsweek during the same week.

Tom Hart, athletics director at Webster University, teaches a freshman seminar on Springsteen. Hart has invited Springsteen to the class each year he has taught it -- so far without success. Hart remains as enthralled, if not as rambunctious, as he was after first seeing Springsteen play in Utica, N.Y. during the late 1970s.

"I was jumping on car hoods and doing air guitar to 'Rosalita' after the show," said Hart, who was mesmerized by Springsteen's energy and connection with the audience. "Somebody threw a Burger King hat on the stage. So he puts it on his head and said something like, 'We're going to do it your way,' something goofy like that."

During the frenzy of the 1998 Mark McGwire home-run record chase, Springsteen attended two games at Busch Stadium. Broadcaster Joe Buck remembers the pregame buzz being about Springsteen hovering behind the batting cage instead of the balls launched from it by McGwire.

Most poignant was Springsteen's response after St. Louis policeman Robert Stanze was killed in the line of duty on Aug. 8, 2000. Springsteen fan and St. Louis policeman Dan Zarrick wrote Springsteen asking for an item to auction in support of Stanze's widow, Michelle, who was pregnant with twins.

Instead, Springsteen's camp called and said, "Bruce wants to know what she needs." Shortly thereafter, Michelle Stanze said, she received a check covering expenses for months of overnight care for the twins.

"You think of all these (famous) people off in their own little world, not in touch with what the rest of us go through, and it kind of shows you a different side," said the grateful Stanze, now Stanze-Colombini since being remarried.

When Springsteen returned to St. Louis, Stanze-Colombini and an overwhelmed Zarrick were his guests backstage. Zarrick recalled his wife, Amy, in tears as she told Springsteen, "You don't know how much you mean to my husband and how much joy you've given him."

Cross-country concert treks

As moved as Stanze-Colombini was by Springsteen's gesture and Zarrick's effort, she teases Zarrick about "stalking" Springsteen by making road trips all over the country to see him.

She's not the only one. Zarrick's sister-in-law has asked him, "You seem like such a normal guy, but why this Bruce thing?"

His explanation: "(My sister-in-law) has the most beautiful home in the world, with art, the way she's decorated it, and I tell her, 'You sit around and you enjoy a wonderful piece of art, and I do, too, but an art that's alive,'" he said.

Zarrick's admiration is fueled by actions profound -- Springsteen's 9/11-inspired song "The Rising" -- and simple -- Springsteen reacting to a banner held by Zarrick and his then 5-year-old daughter in Columbus, Ohio, asking him to do the robot.

"He goes into about a 15-second robot dance, blows her a kiss and says, 'That was for you,'" Zarrick said.

Zarrick, who at age 40 will see his 30th show on Saturday, isn't alone among St. Louisans sensing Springsteen, 55, is especially attuned to them.

Patty Coleman, 48, a teacher and mother of two in Webster Groves, has seen Springsteen in concert about 20 times and has about 120 bootleg Springsteen CDs.

Coleman notes that her zeal is for his music, not Springsteen himself. The singer has provided "the soundtrack of my life," she said, with an uncanny knack for articulating what's happening around and inside her.

"He's right there with you," she says, adding that she hopes he outlives her. "It's like I want him to be along for my whole journey."

Barry Reeves, 36, an editor at The Sporting News, journeyed to Ohio on Sunday for two Springsteen shows. Reeves said that when he saw his first Springsteen concert in Memphis in 1984, "It was like I found my calling." The "complete ecstasy" he felt during that four-hour-plus show hasn't subsided, stirring him to travel virtually anywhere to see Springsteen.

"What's a mortgage payment when you have a chance to see Bruce?" said Reeves, who will see his 21st show Saturday. Reeves wants the Springsteen song "If I Should Fall Behind" played at his wedding — if he meets someone who can relate. "If I can find a girl willing to go for that, I'll know it's destined."

Connecting to his fans

In certain ways, Springsteen fans have something in common with other dedicated music followers, such as the Grateful Dead's groupies, known as Deadheads. But there are definite distinctions.

"Springsteen fans tend to be very community-oriented, like Deadheads. But the community is not an alternative one based on the ideals of Haight-Ashbury in the '60s but rather one based on East Coast urban worklife and escape," Daniel Cavicchi, author of "Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning among Springsteen Fans," wrote in an e-mail. "Traditionally, Deadheads tended to emphasize alternative states of being (through drugs or rhythm) more than Springsteen fans, who tend to engage in more cerebral study and interpretation."

Any interpretation of Springsteen's music hinges on his live performances, which on Saturday will be a more subdued and intimate version inherent to a solo acoustic tour. But even though it will differ from his dynamic gigs with the E Street Band, the essence of performance is the same to Springsteen.

He explained his philosophy in this month's Esquire magazine: "I'm not trying to re-create what the song was like on the record. ... I'm searching for the song to be alive now."

His vigorous commitment to his performances, which vary from night to night and reflect both his roots and his evolving work, resonates with his fans.

St. Louisan Bob Costas has interviewed Springsteen three times and seen him perform from Barcelona, Spain, to New Jersey. Costas said he is astounded by Springsteen's ability to engage the crowd, whether by lifting a woman onto the stage to dance or making wide-eyed contact with teenagers in the audience.

"I'm not naive enough (to think) he could possibly feel toward the person in Row Q what the person in Row Q is feeling toward him, but I think in an abstract sense he feels that way," Costas said, adding that Springsteen's "heroic presence" during shows makes people feel like "I feel when I feel best about myself -- this is who I imagine I am."

"The coolest guy in the room"

"He is always the coolest guy in the room, and there isn't one thimble's worth of, 'You know I'm the coolest guy in the room,'" Costas said of his interviews with Springsteen. "That authenticity is irresistible in an extremely acclaimed and accomplished person who could easily get away with another kind of behavior."

The Satanovsky family discovered that authenticity 25 years ago -- an experience Steve Satanovsky cherished until his death two years ago at age 47 from complications of diabetes.

"My brother (who was a social worker) and Bruce Springsteen were a lot alike. I think they were kindred spirits. They cared about the same kinds of things, wanting things to be better," said Lisa Satanovsky, now 51 and a doctoral student at Washington University. That night "did feel a little surreal, but it also felt like it was kind of supposed to happen in a way, too."

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