As is the case with my memories of the first time I saw Bruce Springsteen. It will be 40 years since that November 29th show. It seems like yesterday.
Darkness on the Edge of Town was released that year and I had just moved to St Paul with my family. I was almost 16 when the album came out.
My older brother introduced me to Bruce only 2 years earlier, Born to Run. The first time I heard the music & listened to the lyrics, I was a fan
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. But it was more than just a fan. It became almost like a religion! I was from a middle class suburban family of 7. I never knew a working class upbringing, but I struggled. I struggled for independence from my father’s reign. I struggled to figure out who I was and where I belonged. While the songs didn’t describe me, or my life, they talked to me about everything I was fighting with on the inside.
When the Darkness album came out, a local radio station ran a satellite feed of a live concert Bruce did at the Agora in Cleveland. It aired on WMMS and I recorded it on an 8 track tape player/recorder. When it was announced he was coming to St Paul I knew I just had to be there. To me it was a pilgrimage. I felt that in order for me to grow and mature, I needed to be in his presence and get blessed. I know that all sounds shallow and childish, but I was still childish in many ways. I was in that teenage DMZ where you are no longer a child, but not yet a man. What I gained from that concert was the knowledge that it’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to struggle. These moments shape us. I learned that it’s not the struggle, but how you respond! How do you handle the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The concert lasted about 3 hrs. I never sat, not even at intermission. My brother and girlfriend went with me, they took me actually, and she was not impressed. I didn’t care. I basically forgot they were there. It could have been easy to talk about the setlist, or performances of the “Big Man” and the rest of the E Street Band, but we can find that info on online. I can honestly say that my life got completely crazy from 1978 – 1989. I almost didn’t make it. Obviously I did and I think a huge contributing factor was the music of Bruce!
Now I have a son that is the same age I was then. I see my life struggles going on inside him. It causes great concern and fear for me. While Springsteen isn’t his type of music, I trust his love of music will get him through. That said, I will encourage him by playing “Darkness” and see if he connects as I did.
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