I’ve mentioned Springsteen in the past. Not long after I began eating solid foods again last February, a friend and I did a road trip to Tampa to see him and the E Street Band in concert. I’m going again this weekend, flying up home to New Jersey. That’s the reason for the timing, but honestly, I’m even more excited about getting to see several friends who I normally only visit with about once a year. Some of them have been my friends since college years, just about the time my fandom of Bruce and the band started. Some of them have been friends since the mid-90s. One I’ve known since 2006.
With the exception of the ones I’ve known since college, none of the friends I’m seeing this weekend have every seen me at this weight. They’ve seen my recent pictures, but I believe the changes are more noticeable in person. We’re all excited to spend time together. Since the time I shared that I was having the surgery, even across miles and states, every single one of them has provided love, encouragement and support and they’ve celebrated my progress and success. It’s going to be so much fun!
Now onto Bruce. From the time I became a fan in 1975 with the release of the Born to Run album, I’ve been drawn to his music because of the lyrics and his remarkable ability to create characters and tell stories in his songs. Even though we did not share a common background, except that we’re both Jersey born, he tapped into universal struggles, goals, aspirations and obstacles. Whether someone is the son of a bus driver or the daughter of a doctor, everybody dreams of who they want to be and what they want to achieve. Wealthy doesn’t shield you from a broken heart and a working class background doesn’t make your dreams less worthy.
So even though I’m not the character in his song (Although, please note that he has frequently named female characters Mary. Just sayin’.), I can still crank up the volume, belt out, “I’m pulling out of here to win!” and feel the determination deep in my soul.
I have never physically lived in the South Dakota Badlands, or even visited, so I don’t visualize the setting in Bruce’s song “Badlands” when I sing along. Instead I remember when I was in a tough situation, feeling heartsick, lonely, frustrated and all the more determined to break free of the turmoil and find joy in my life. That’s why I identify and sing along with the lines,
For the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.
I wanna find one face that aint looking through me
I wanna find one place, I wanna spit in the face of these Badlands
I could pull out lines from dozens of songs that have inspired me over the decades. I hope to hear many of them Saturday night. You can bet that I will be on my feet, singing and dancing to every song. Bruce shows aren’t just concerts to me. They’re celebrations and I enjoy every minute. (I’ve lost count but this is either the 19th or 20th full length Bruce concert I’ve attended. Maybe the 21st. The first was in August 1978 at the old Spectrum in Philly.)
That dancing’s going to come a lot easier this year. Hell, just climbing the steps to our seats will be easier to accomplish. That’s another thing to celebrate, along with the simple fact of being glad that I’m alive.