We finished our mini-road trip at Asbury Park, the prettily faded sea-side town we visited four years ago when I made a Bruce Springsteen pilgrimage to places mentioned in his songs (click the time-machine link here). It was just before Hurricane Sandy smashed into the New Jersey shore and caused a lot of damage so I was interested to see how it had affected the town and whether it had recovered.
Happily things seemed Great. The Old Casino building was in a bad state but businesses were doing well, a lot of new shops and cafes were up and running successfully and, best of all, the music scene seemed as vibrant as it had been 45 years ago when a scruffy kid named Bruce hung out on the boardwalk and played every club, bowling alley, dive bar, bar mitzvah and theatre he could get his various bands in to. The Wonder Bar, Stone Pony, Convention Hall and Paramount Theatre all had live music most nights and every summer the Stone Pony’s summer stage takes over up an entire block and hosts big names and unknowns alike.
This visit I dragged Jan a little further afield than the boardwalk and the Stone Pony, however, and actually found Freehold, where Bruce had lived as a child and teenager- places that also appear in song lyrics and where so many of his concert story-telling originated: the house where his depression-suffering father would sit in the dark, brooding over his own life’s direction (and the young, rebellious Bruce’s), where his grandmother let him watch TV till 3 am, where his mother gave him his first Japanese guitar and where he first saw Elvis and The Beatles on TV- forever changing his life and giving him something to BE!
Next door to his first home is the school where he never did well or fitted in (too many 3 am nights!) and where a Nun dropped him in a rubbish bin. A few miles down the road is the tiny blue house he rented after his first two albums went nowhere in the charts and where he hunkered down to create an album that would save his career… and where he wrote Born To Run. Between those two places is a stretch of rural land dotted with horse-breeding farms and attractive homes- a far cry from the rented half houses he grew up in. One of those farms is where he lives now with his wife Patty, who grew up a mile or two down the road and his 91 year old mother lives nearby too. After a fifty year career, with the whole world at his feet, Bruce lives 15 minutes from his humble, troubled origins.
Other photos: Ocean Grove (set up by the same Methodist church which established our own Ocean Grove at home), Long Branch and the “Super Moon”.