Sunday, June 15, 2014
It was the fall of 1975. I was a sophomore at the University of Nebraska living in the zoo they call dorms and was home in Omaha and I saw them. The magazine covers. Time AND Newsweek. Rock's New Sensation. Making of a Rock Star. Hell, who IS this guy? He has to be important, right?
I got back to Lincoln, asked my older roommate if he'd ever heard of this guy, Bruce Springsteen? Nope. So I went over to Dirt Cheap records and bought Born To Run. Back to the dorm, the roommate perked up, and we put it on the turntable. Fuuuuuuck.
"The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves. Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays. Roy Orbison singin for the lonely, hey that's me and I want you only".......and then......."With a chance to make it good somehow hey what else can we do nowwww......except ROLL DOWN THE WINDOWS AND LET THE WIND BLOW BACK YOUR HAIR.....".......Jesusssss.......Both of us....blown away by one fuckin song by a guy we both never heard of? Wow..my days of Black Oak Arkansas and shit like that were over.
The rest of Born to Run was equally compelling. My roommate "borrowed' that album right out the door at the end of the semester. He called me telling me he still had and he would get it back to me. Never happened. He called me to go see Bruce in Omaha in 1978 but I lacked the funds at the time. I've till never seen that album again. No matter, I bought a new one soon after he "borrowed" it anyway.
Anyway, Bruce Springsteen is more important to me than maybe any other singer/songwriter and that includes Dylan, Morrison, Lennon or McCartney. He came along at THAT time in one's life when you're 18 and looking. The others were childhood memories. And they were dead, writing crap, broken up or just plain nuts. Bruce was none of those.
Now I'm not the kind of guy who runs off and sees rock acts in other towns so I never saw Springsteen until his 1984 tour and he came to Lincoln,Nebraska. I went down, scrounged a ticket for $16 from some guy who I'd told how much I HAD to see this, and ended up 3 rows back BEHIND the stage. Best seat in the house. Cuz The Boss (Bonnie I dont KNOW who he's the BOSS of!!:))turns around. A LOT. So close I could see the obvious connection between he and Patti, even though he was married to that actress at the time. Damn. 4 hours of sweaty rock n roll. My Dad, my Grandma, neither of whom had a clue to who this guy was, both went "four hours?" My Grandma referred to him as "your friend" everytime he was in the news after that. "I see your friend gave a bunch of money to the food back today" She wasn't being snarky. She just had probably never seen me carry on about anyone like that before. "My friend". Miss ya Grandma.
Shit how do you pick that? Thunder Road, my first? Rosalita? Nebraska? Human Touch? The River (with the sage advice to every person who is 15 to 20 years old "I got Mary pregnant and man that was all she wrote)? Tunnel of Love? Philadelphia?
There's literally dozens of favorite songs but I'm picking:
After 9/11 I had no clue to what the fuck any group of people would do that for. I couldn't comprehend how 300 plus firefighters could lose their lives in one moment of insanity. It still blows my mind. Really! And then came this album from Bruce Springsteen. I carried it around work with me. I listened to it all the time. The Rising is how I coped. Much like The Streets of Philadephia he puts himself, and you in that place where nobody wants to be. Nobody else I know of can do that.
Sorry but I absolutely hate Dancing In The Dark. Hated it from the first time I saw that stupid video that launched Courtney Cox into stardom. What the hell, Boss? It must have been a rough patch for you to make that idiotic video. You are not Tom Jones. Only Tom Jones is Tom Jones.
So many. Yet I would argue Jungleland.You get it all in this masterpiece. The painted picture, the poetry, the Van Zandt solo, the Bittan piano, and of course the Big Man's sax solo which is chilling. Who hasn't screamed at an E Street band show "Dowwwwwwwn innnnnnn Jungle-Laaaaaaaand"?
The man, the Boss, still relevant at age 65. Every bit as much as 1975 when I first saw those magazines siting on the coffee table at home knowing neither of my parents had even so much as read the articles. The articles felt unread. That made it so much better.