Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mr. Springsteen

You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can't take the Jersey out of the girl. And the Jersey Girl in me will always love Bruce Springsteen.

I've lost count of the number of times that I've seen him in concert; at least two times at Madison Square Garden, several times at The Meadowlands (yes, I realize I'm dating myself) and last night marked the third time seeing him in North Carolina. That man can still rock a stadium and still make this old lady feel very much like a Jersey Girl.

While it's true that I love his music, I realized during last night's performance that I also love the memories that come with his music. I've mentioned on more than one occasion in this blog that I do not have a good memory. But there is something magical about a Springsteen song; somehow singing his lyrics and humming his melodies brings to life vivid memories that I would not normally be able to recall on my own. And as cheesy as it sounds, along with the memories come warm feelings and many smiles. And that's what I love about Bruce Springsteen.

Last night while he was singing "Growing Up" he brought me back to Darlington Avenue in Ramsey, New Jersey. The year was 1973 and my friend Elaine and I were in the third grade. We were in the attic of her old victorian house watching her teenage sister get ready to go out on a date. She was blasting Springsteen and singing every word while the three of us danced around like fools. That was the day I fell in love with Bruuuuuce.

Two years later I remember my sister, Susan, setting her alarm for midnight so that she could wake up and hear our local New York radio station, WPLJ, unveil the Born to Run album. I was too young to partake in the midnight madness, but she taped it for me on a cassette cartridge. Within two days we knew every lyric to every song on that album. And I can still hear my mother saying, "I wish you girls knew your school work like you knew those lyrics." I can't tell you what I learned in school that year, but I can still sing every word to every song on the Born to Run album. My mother is very impressed. Not.

And then there is the memory of my sister, Karen, waking me and my sisters up in the middle of the night to tell us that she had met Bruce Springsteen. She and her friend were in NYC that night and were stopped by tourists who asked if she would take their picture. When my sister looked through the camera she thought that one of the guys looked a lot like Bruce Springsteen. Sure enough, my sister was face to face with The Boss. I thought her head was going to pop off from sheer delight as she described following him into a building and calling out, "Mr. Springsteen...." Love that she used her best manners when addressing the legend. He chatted a bit with my sister and her friend and scored major brownie points with the Natale sisters. Till this day, my sisters and I refer to him as Mr. Springsteen.

I don't remember a lot about high school, but I remember singing Thunder Road. All the time. I suppose other cheerleading squads sang their school's fight songs while pulling into the opposing team's parking lot...but not our squad...we sang Bruce. At the top of our lungs. "It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win...."

You'd think I might have outgrown it and him by the time I left for college in New England. But, as luck would have it, my BFF at Bentley also loved Bruce Springsteen. She grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, the type of town that Bruce would sing about, and we had a lot in common, not the least of which was our mutual adoration for all things Springsteen.

She was next to me last night singing and clapping and humming and dancing. My sister Karen was a few rows in front of us wondering if Bruce recognized her. I'm sure he did; she hasn't really changed much in 3o years and I doubt there have been that many encounters with crazy obsessed fans (hardly). Especially ones that call him Mr. Springsteen.

Ok, clearly I need to wrap this thing up before I break out into Glory Days....

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