Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
(Belmar, actually, but I wanted to open with the name of the album.)
It’s been many years since I’ve been to this stretch of the Jersey Shore. Some good friends were kind enough to invite us to join them for the holiday weekend. We are thrilled to see them and to be back “down the shore,” in that order.
This is hallowed ground for fans of Bruce Springsteen. And I am definitely one.
In the summer of 1975, having never heard of him, I saw Springsteen perform at a concert hall in Norfolk, Va., and my life was forever changed. The Born to Run album had just come out and, to a girl of fifteen, Bruce’s energy and stage presence were electrifying. Once I knew what he was actually singing, I was inspired.
It can be hard to understand Bruce when he sings but, within no time after the concert, I had the album and was reading and memorizing the lyrics. That, boys and girls, was back when an album cover was large enough to print all the lyrics in readable type.
At fifteen, I was already disillusioned with the sappy pop music of Top 40 radio. The Captain and Tennille just didn’t capture the pain and angst that kids my age were feeling.
But Bruce? No candy coating there, his songs were real. They were life in the streets and broken hearts and hard knocks. They ripped your heart out and offered hope at the same time.
I’ve always considered Bruce Springsteen a modern poet. On this occasion of my visit here, I’d like to share some of my favorite of his lyrics.
From the song, “For You”
We were both hitchhikers but you had your ear tuned to the roar
of some metal-tempered engine on an alien, distant shore
From “Growin’ Up”
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fallout zone and came out with my soul untouched
From “Thunder Road”
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street, your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn, you hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they’re gone, on the wind, so Mary climb in
It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to win
In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage
Inside the backstreet girls are dancing to the records that the DJ plays
Lonely-hearted lovers struggle in dark corners desperate as the night moves on
Just one look and a whisper, and they’re gone.
I’m going to sign off now. I have a lump in my throat.