I missed the local showings of the new documentary Springsteen & I, about the unique relationship between Bruce and his fans. But then–I already wrote down my version of why Bruce Springsteen mattered to me–all the way back in 2005. It was reprinted by Sean Kirst of the Post-Standard on his blog as “Springsteen And The Soundtrack Of One Life:”
Springsteen is the only artist I know whose work has had an effect on me, at all the different stages of my life. Even though Bruce is ten years
older than I am, it’s almost as if my life’s soundtrack is constantly being updated by his recordings.
His first three, very melodramatic, records hooked me from the moment Iheard them. When you’re in your teens, you really do feel things more intensely and emotionally. You know people like Sandy, Rosalita and Crazy Janey. You have your own stories about the “Spirits In the Night.” When you start to get older and more frustrated, your little town really is a town full of losers that rips the bones from your back. You’re ready to leave.
I grew up in Fayetteville, a very insular suburb. With the next three albums, “Darkness On The Edge of Town,” “The River” and “Nebraska,” Bruce
certainly helped me gain some insight into my life as I left this bubble and allowed me to reflect on what was going on around me. My first stabs at
young adulthood– college, relationships and careers–were certainly as stark as the new tone that Bruce was taking. I was learning that faith and
hard work alone is often not rewarded. Life is more complicated than that.
“Born In The U.S.A.” was an album addressing all those people who felt left out of the Reagan Revolution, both politically and economically. It was a life boat for those of us who were emotionally outraged at the mean-spirited public agenda. While the album is relentlesly downbeat in message, its music allows you a glimmer of hope.
At the time of the Dome shows on the “Born In The USA” tour, I had dropped out of school, was working temp jobs and living in my parents’ basement. A friend, who knew I had no money, conned his sister into getting us two nosebleed tickets, and I spent my 25th birthday listening to Bruce. It is
still one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.
I grew up, went back to school and settled down to a series of unfulfilling jobs. After six years of fear and loathing I finally screwed up the courage to quit my last bad job and find something to do that inspired me. At the same time, I fell in love with the woman that would become my wife. At the same time, Bruce came out with the “Human Touch/Lucky Town” albums.
The song “Better Days” became my anthem:
“I got a new suit of clothes a pretty red rose/ And a woman I can call my friend/ These are better days baby/ Yeah there’s better days shining
through/ These are better days baby/ Better days with a girl like you.”
I could go on forever, but I’ll end on as good a note as any, my favorite Bruce song: “Racing In The Street:”
“Some guys they just give up living/ And start dying little by little, piece by piece/ Some guys come home from work and wash up/ And go racin’ in the street.”