Jan and Ian

Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey…

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In 1975 a song came on the radio that grabbed me from the first listening, an amazing four and a half minute wall-of-sound that seemed to encompass everything that I loved about music, especially rock and roll. It was both state-of-the-art and retro at the same time, as if all my favourite records of the late 50s and early 60s had been melted down and reborn. “Born To Run” was the most incredible thing I had ever heard but, being a broke high school student I didn’t actually buy a copy, I just listened to the radio a lot hoping it would come on.
By 1978 I was at Teacher’s College and had a scholarship that transformed me into an almost broke student, so when I saw a bargain bin copy of Springsteen’s next record, “Darkness on the Edge of Town” I paid my last $5 and took it home, a little anxious that without “Born to Run” on it I would be disappointed. I wasn’t. It became, and still is over 30 years later, my favourite record of all time. Somehow, with me just beginning to figure out what the adult world was all about, the songs made perfect sense. The characters were ordinary people whose lives didn’t always work out, but there was always an optimism in them that brought you back, over and over again, to believe in “The Promised Land”.
Of course the next record I bought was “Born to Run” and quickly after that Springsteen’s first two (hard to get at the time) albums. Then followed a long wait- Bruce didn’t release albums very often back then (or now, generally) and so the first four records were my constant playlist and I was able to trace how the characters in each record were actually the same people going through stage after stage in their lives, starting out as Wild and Innocent teenagers and moving through their romantic youth till they eventually were in the second act of their lives, where everything threatens to unravel- but somehow, through force of will, they hang on. And it all made sense.
Many years, many albums, and (joyously, after a long wait, four concerts later, I still measure all music against Springsteen’s. I can love pretty much any type of music and my music collection is about as eclectic as you could possible get (White Stripes & Hanson anyone… I can explain!) Significantly, Bruce’s records over the years have swung stylistically through everything from rock, to Woody Guthrie themed folk, to R’n’B, to a New Orleans Jazz/Celtic fusion and back again to strident guitars and pounding rock drums. Pretty much everything I find thought provoking, inspirational and joyous about music can be found mixed together and distilled into Springsteen’s records. Most of it was already there on “Darkness on the Edge of Town”.
OK, so why this long, rambling, self centred introduction? Because Springsteen’s story begins in Asbury Park, New Jersey and his first album was given the exact same as I have stolen for this blog post. And today I dragged Jan along to walk along the boardwalk to Madam Marie’s, and through the empty streets and into the bars, the clubs, the Carousel, the derelict casino, the Paramount Theatre, to stand on the stage of The Stone Pony, to find the corner of E Street and 10th Avenue, and even to drive down Kingsley and around “The Circuit” and chase “Something in the Night”, even though I had already found it all those years ago…

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2 comments

  1. Heidi

    Ian,Wow! That is so very exciting!! One of the bests posts ever (beautifully written!) I love that you have had this amazing, and very personal experience…Isn’t that what travelling is all about? Exploring until you find yourself again? Hxx

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