Bruce Springsteen was our Elvis.
When I became a teenager in the mid-1970s, the original King of Rock and Roll was an over-the-hill joke. But Bruce? On the cover of both Time and Newsweek, young, raw, supremely talented.
His music ticked off the milestones of my life: howling along with "Rosalita" in a circle of beer-soaked freshmen. Screaming myself hoarse to the man himself live at McGaw Hall.
The Boss had my back. When I was gathering my courage to get married, he offered up "Tunnel of Love," his crawl through the carnival of matrimony.
His music was epic, inspirational, almost protective. I remember listening to his live album on a Walkman during two weeks wandering Port au Prince in 1987, a sonic talisman against the overwhelming reality of Haiti. I might be alone in the Cite de Soleil slum, but I was born in the USA. No retreat, no surrender.
Springsteen even introduced me to the indignities of age, when I played his music for my own teenage sons. Without hesitation, proud, revealing a wonder. Give a listen to this, boys. I was genuinely flabbergasted when they greeted his music with a shrug. "The songs are all the same, dad," one said. I wilted, the magician with a stream of cards tumbling out of his sleeve. Oh right. I too will grow old and everything I care about will be mocked as a joke.
Fanhood faded. Years passed. Then a few months ago I joined Audible, and one of its quirks is that it charges you for a book a month. You might as well pick something and listen. I chose "Born to Run," narrated by the Boss himself. A nostalgia trip.
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