Saturday, April 23, 2005

VH-1 Storytellers: Bruce Springsteen

I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan.  My first concert at the age of twelve was at Giants Stadium in 1984 to see his "Born in the USA" Tour.  I cried through the entire show.  My cousin, who I went with, thought there was something wrong.  We stood on our seats and clapped until our hands bled.

The next day, I counted all of the money I had saved from babysitting and my allowance, whatever my grandparents' had given me, whatever I had and asked my mom to take me to the Square Circle record store in the Pathmark shopping center to buy as many Springsteen tapes as I could afford.  It took me years to actually unwrap the cellophane from some of those tapes.  Every time I opened one, I listened and learned all of the lyrics and I wept.  The words, the music and his voice touch me somewhere so deep inside that the emotion just comes out.

It makes sense in a way.  I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school, my mom is Italian, my family is blue collar and I was born and raised in Central New Jersey.  He writes about what I know, what I have lived and what I believe.  I remember the New Jersey of his early songs and I still glimpse it at the concerts.  It was a world of blue collar workers who were real good people and were there for each other.  It was a world of small towns and front porches and sons going to work at the same mill their father worked at.  And mothers praying that their daughters didn't get knocked up as they did and never got out of that town.  It was something that we wanted to get away from.  But now that we have, I think life is so much more complicated.  But maybe that is just because I was a kid then and I am an adult now and the adult world is always more complicated.

Tonight I watched a special on VH-1 Storytellers: Bruce Springsteen.  I had heard the title track of the new album "Devils & Dust" the day it was released.  And like every song of his, it touched me in the place so deep, so primal...a place that I don't even know exists until I hear his voice, listen to the lyrics.  It's a song about a soldier in Iraq and the hard decisions that he must face.

But there is another song on the new album, a song about Jesus being Mary's son.  A song about parents and children and parents' desire to protect their children.  It is the story of Jesus' crucifiction with his mother by his side.  It was so powerful it blew me away.  Having been raised a Catholic and now being a mother and raising my children in the Presbyterian church, it touched me in a place even deeper than the place his songs usually touch me. He commented that parents have this primal need to protect their children from all harm and that it shocked him the first time he felt it.  I remember that experience as well.  But to think of Jesus as a man, as a son and a lover and a possible bar owner that preached on the side--it was amazingly powerful for me.  Again, he has taken something so personal and about every parent and made it into something that we can all relate to.