Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run – Part 1
I just finished reading this fabulous book & it reminded me of how my life and Bruce Springsteen’s life crossed paths, where his went in one direction and mine the other. Like Springsteen, I grew up in New Jersey. Like Springsteen, my entire life has been devoted to guitar & music. I was in a myriad of bands as he was & could see the vehicle of being in a rock band would be the way I would make my mark on the universe… like Bruce. In 1975 I had come home back to New Jersey after graduating from the University of Arizona. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, though I had the degree. No matter what was put in front of me, the hippy in me didn’t want to do the “normal thing”, like get a “job”. This was not received very well by my parents… In looking back, it’s actually understanding… as they paid for my college. Meanwhile, I was really feeling the power a guitar in my hands had been giving me. I loved playing to smoky rooms where people raised their beers to be part of the Dream. (Mind you, I’ve never smoked cigarettes… though my clothes, smelling like sweat and grime, were like a badge of honor.) Not soon after I got back to New Jersey, my Mom started coughing, went to get it checked and found out she had inoperable cancer, with six months to live. (Unfortunately, she didn’t make it that long.) I escaped into Music, as I always did, yet this time I didn’t want to face the inevitable. I played with some bands in the Village, being in the same scene as the Talking Heads, Blondie, and the Ramones.
The future of my family…my parents and my brother… and life… was unsure…though my future… with a guitar in my hands… felt infinite.
In October, 1975, my good friend Paul Bilsky got us tickets to see Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band at a theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey. Bilsky had somehow gotten involved with a group of friends coming out of college and started his own concert promoting business called Banzini Brothers Productions. I gather Bilsky was able to get these tickets because of his new profession. I’d been feeling like I was living in the Twilight Zone, so it didn’t hurt that I could get out and experience some music. My buddy, Matt Radin, had a band in Tucson that played songs from “The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle” and I didn’t get it. Too many changes…too many words. (My heroes included Mountain and Leslie West… fantastic and completely different.) So, I dragged my zombie ass down to the heartland not expecting much – unsure as to what Paul knew…he was not musical, like me, just saw a business opportunity. The concert was astounding from the moment the band hit the stage. I was totally transformed by Bruce… his amazing band… & I was proud to be from New Jersey! (Footnote… Though lots of famous folks have come from the Garden State, it wasn’t considered cool to be from there… until Bruce. When he mentions “New Jersey” at any concert, many cheer. My feeling is that some in attendance are from New Jersey, and some wish they were. In any case, Bruce is the Real Deal).