“Born to Run” has been a mainstay in my record collection since I was in my late teens, which is a little weird, considering I was born 3 years after its release. I turned 20, some 20 years after it had shaken the rock world; catapulting ‘the future of rock n’ roll’ onto the covers of both Time and Newsweek. That endless summer night of a record, clocking in at just over 39 minutes, somehow found its way from the mid-seventies Jersey shores all the way into the heart, and mind, and soul, of this young songwriter (that’s me) in the late 1990’s southern town of Gainesville, Ga. His long, cascading lyrics weaved their Cinemascope fabric through the backstreets, tunnels, bridges, and highways of Springsteen’s, decades old, vision of American youth, somehow amplifying the sound in my head, and magnifying my own American adolescence.
I was 19 years old, when standing in a friend’s living room, I drunkenly yelled the lyric; “It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to WIN!” right into the face of my ex-girlfriend, and first love of my life. I spent the rest of the evening trying to convince her to leave college and move to a beach town in the Caribbean with me. How we would get there, or what we would do for money was unimportant to me. We were young, we were beautiful in our youth, and we had faith and rock n roll on our side!
She turned me down, cold.
She left the party early.
I was devastated.
“BOSS!” I yelled to the stereo, “What do I do now?”
“Start a band.” He answered, inside my head.
I’m 43 years old now, with 2 kids, 2 albums, 2 EPs, 1 ex-wife, 1 day job, 1 beautiful, amazing, true LOVE OF MY LIFE, fiancé, and a little less hair. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Well, I’d change the thinning hair, but the rest of it is perfect. Not because I’m rich and famous, not because I’ve won Grammys and accolades from peers in my craft, because I haven’t. No. Everything is perfect because I’ve worked hard at, and for, everything I have. Everything is perfect, because I wake up each day with a desire to be a better father, a better partner, and a better songwriter, and musician than I was the day before.
“Born to Run” , the autobiography by Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen, is a book I’ve now purchased 3 times. The first time was the day it came out. I devoured it, hearing Springsteen’s graveled, affectation of a voice in my head. The second time was the Audio Book, read by the author. My inner Springsteen was spot on, by the way. The third time was in Kennesaw, Georgia. Springsteen was stopping by, live and in person, to shake hands and take pictures. The books were pre-signed and purchases were made on the way into the store, like a ticket to the event. I was beside myself with excitement. I was like a 6 year old in line to meet Santa, only this time, it’s really Santa.
As my time with THE MAN approached, I thought of countless things I wanted to say. Smart things. It was Christmas time, and I thought it might be cool to forget about myself in the moment and wish him and his lovely family a “Merry Christmas.” I’d read and listened to his book by that point and had thought of several things I might bring up, quickly, just to let him know that I was a reader. It’s always nice to meet a reader. However, when my time came, I clammed up. There before me, shorter than me, smaller around the shoulders, a little hunched in the back, stood my Moses. There was the author, yes, author, who had helped liberate me from my own insecurities, and my failures, and my heartaches, and any other number of afflictions cast upon every air-breathing human. There before me, in a leather jacket, torn t-shirt, and jeans, was the man who taught me that work isn’t just about getting paid. Our work defines us.
And all I could say was “Thank you. Thank you Boss.”
And he patted me on the back, and said; “God bless you.”
A benediction from Saint Springsteen.
Here I am, a singer, a songwriter, most importantly, a father, and a citizen of the human race. I’m a fairly normal guy, depending on who you ask. Thinking back to that night, when I was 19 years old, yelling the amazing line, “It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to WIN!” into the face of that beautiful, young woman, I realize now, that none of us are losers.
Oh, that’s a welcome proclamation for a young person, and I’m certain I’ll always find my own defiance in it when I sing along, but, the truth is, none of us are losers, if we show up, and work hard, and do our best, no matter the task, or the work at hand.
Springsteen knows that, and so do I.
Just to ‘practice what I preach’ here is a song, for free…a part of my work, a part of what defines me…Thank you so much for reading
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