Growing up in New Jersey, you couldn’t avoid Bruce Springsteen. Most residents derived a little pride in the Boss. He’s our default stereo setting. I knew kids in high school who didn’t like music. They simply didn’t care. Yet amazingly, they loved Bruce. He appeals to the music snob and the music rube alike. Since yesterday was Bruce’s 65th birthday, there’s no reason to belabor that point. He isn’t the first artist to have a diverse fan base. Willie Nelson has made a career connecting to both hippies and rednecks.
Yesterday was also the Autumnal Equinox — the first day of fall. Fitting. Although Bruce Springsteen’s music brings to mind endless summer days and beach nights, when I think of him, I picture the cold, the frost. Dying leaves and dead trees. And it’s not difficult to understand. I wasn’t raised in a particularly strict home. Say please, thank you, no elbows on the table, look both ways when crossing the street. And most importantly, if you are listening to Bruce Springsteen in the car – roll down the windows and crank up the volume. December? Yes. 100 below? Yes. Next question. There’s a weird bond I have with the music in my car and the strangers on the street. To say nothing of any unwitting passengers. The chillier it is outside, the more powerful the music feels. Either that or it’s pneumonia. Did they appreciate the Big Man’s sax solo on “Jungleland?” Did anyone listen to “The River” when Bruce says “And for my 19th birthday I got a union card and a weddin’ coat?” I hope so. Because I need random passersby to enjoy this music too.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band epitomize rock and roll’s grandiosity. Its production and spectacle. Listening to Bruce with the windows up suffocates its soul. You have to let it out. It’s not sufficient to enjoy alone either. Songs, especially Springsteen songs, deserve to be shared. And shared loudly.
Here’s to the Boss. The music speaks for itself.