Bruce Springsteen’s on tour again. Which means Sirius has taken over their light rock channel and replaced it with a 24-hour-a-day Bruce Springsteen Channel, E Street Radio.
It also means I, a person lumped in the incorrect demographic, can rejoice in everything that is “The Boss.”
Loving Springsteen isn’t anything new – millions have been enjoying his music before I have, and a good chunk of them haven’t been middle aged. But it’s weird to look around at a group of fans and notice that, without a doubt, you’re in the lowest percentile in terms of age – a spring chicken among the roosters ready for slaughter.
But here I am.
I discovered the singability of Springsteen through karaoke, where I would attempt to put an ironic spin on “Born to Run;” you know, “Oh, jeez, look at how cool I am by singing this incredibly unhip song.”
How naïve I was. Springsteen may be old, but he’s not unhip. And then, it stuck. I started listening to it for what it is. I reached out and latched on to the deeper cuts – the hits that didn’t make the radio every day. I gained an appreciation through listening to Tony Kornheiser in his last days on ESPN radio, when he would completely skirt sports topics and focus solely on aging rocker music, Bruce Springsteen being one of his favorites.
The irony wore off and Bruce came alive. I saw his image blossom before me, his music deepened, his characters filled out and his stories became incredibly slices of life; people who lived and loved and all of that, in the flesh.
I don’t know if it’s the gruff, weathered farm hand voice or the simple poetics, but Springsteen sounds more like the voice of America than any person I’ve ever heard.
I mean, the guy’s from Jersey, and he sounds like he was pulled up from the dirt in the middle of Kansas, brushed off and sent off to study depression era pain and mid-50s heartbreak – he’s every time and every place in the United States.
He’s a Woody Guthrie disciple, a Steinbeck scholar and a modern day rock icon, all at once, mixing tough and pleasantly broken in lyrics with a sensibility that screams patriotism. That’s patriotism in a good way – the kind that means you love your country, not your government; you fight for what’s right, not what’s proper.
From Tom Joad to Rosalita, “Thunder Road” to “The River,” comic relief to a higher plane of understanding, Bruce Springsteen has formed a little niche in my musical rotation.
And to those of you who have already known his greatness – to those of you who spread the gospel of The Boss throughout the nation while us young’ns sat nursing on Green Day and Pearl Jam, thinking we had found the most accurate voice for our generation – you’ll be happy to know that we hear you. Loud and clear.
Three cheers for The Boss.