I first wrote this a few years ago in preparation for a blog project I never got around to finishing. I hope to get back around to finishing the project one day, but until then, I wanted to share this story I wrote as an introduction for it. Tomorrow, I head to Nashville to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for my 10th, and quite possibly my final, time. As the band dusts off old gems each night, many fans have the feeling this might be the group’s last tour, as many of them have crossed the 60-year mark and might have retirement in mind.
Making this concert even more meaningful is the fact my sister, brother-in-law and three nephews are also going (albeit separately from me, through a fluke in schedules), meaning another generation gets to be introduced to this world-class band. Beyond that, it’s another shared moment, another shared love between my nephews and me.
Nashville, here we come.
Why Bruce Springsteen?
In the late 1980s, my sister dated Scott Rose, easily one of the coolest kids at Powell County High School. He worked as a lifeguard. He had a moustache. He drove a Jeep.
To a pre-teen boy, these things are things you dream of having when you grow up, maybe having one by age 17 if you’re lucky. And here was Scott sporting all three. Toss in the fact he played on the varsity baseball team, thus securing ownership of one of those rad red jackets that weren’t quite letter jackets but were, somehow, an even bigger status symbol.
Oh yes, Scott had it all.
And he loved Bruce Springsteen.
Anytime I got in Scott’s Jeep (which really wasn’t that often since my parents were afraid of it), he would play a Springsteen cassette tape, usually something from the Live ’75-’85 collection. I can remember leaving the Stanton City Pool one hot summer day, piling into the Jeep and riding down Highway 15, the wind (and music) blowing back my hair.
It was magic.
I was hooked.
The 1990s eventually rolled around and the beginning of the decade found me smack dab in the middle of puberty. It was a confusing time, hormonally and musically. Hip-hop and grunge had yet to break big, hair metal was on the wane and there was no clear musical identity for the era, leaving people like Tevin Campbell and Timmy T to rule, albeit temporarily, the airwaves.
In my sophomore year of high school, my parents bought me a CD player for Christmas, and I proudly blasted my first four CDs from the likes of MC Hammer, the Kentucky Headhunters, Garth Brooks and Wilson Phillips.
You’ll note the complete and total absence of any Springsteen.
It was until the following year that I returned to Bruce making my first purchase not long after I received my driver’s license. The album? Born to Run, and nothing screamed “drive” to a 16-year-old like these classic tracks. Note: They still do.
When not behind the wheel, I would listen to the album on a near-constant repeat in my room, trying my best to learn the lyrics. I rejoiced the first time I could recite “just wrap your legs ‘round these velvet rims and strap your hands across my engines,” knowing he meant more than a car.
Much has changed since those days. I eventually grew facial hair, and it’s really no big deal. Jeeps no longer appeal to me. My career aspirations have moved past sitting at a pool and watching kids splash around. And, most unfortunate of all, Scott died in a car crash in the late 1990s, leaving us only with memories.
But I’ll always have Springsteen. Scott’s Springsteen. My Springsteen. As other musical fads come and go, as trends start today and end today, I’ll keep those albums, those songs, those lyrics that mean so much.
Some days I look back and think of being 16, young and invincible, the world at my feet.
Some days I look ahead and think of being old and gray, looking for one last-chance power drive.
And in between, the here and now, one day at a time, feeling my way through a world of sadness and happiness, good times and bad, light and dark. I have my music, his music, and I’m never alone, as I know others out there feel the power just the same as I do.
I’m not alone. The world isn’t bad. Things are OK.
And tramps like us, baby, we’re born to run.