Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful ode to street racers, is my favourite Springsteen song, from Darkness on the edge of town, which is also my favourite album. It perfectly illustrates the lives of working class nobodies, whose one passion is racing for money, cars and sometimes hearts.
I blew that Camaro off my back and drove that little girl away.
What I most love about this song, and indeed about most of his songs, is that everyone has a chance at redemption.
For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels
Rumbling through this promised land
Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea
And wash these sins off our hands
I first saw ‘The Boss’ in concert when he toured Australia with the E Street Band in 1985. I was 17 and my brother was 15. We travelled by bus from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane. Because it was his first ever Australian tour, buying tickets required you to cut out an order from from our local newspaper and post it, along with your money order, to the ticket office. The tickets were only $25 each!
The only thing we knew about Bruce Springsteen was what we’d heard from his Born in the U.S.A album. But what we got changed us forever. That show, lasting almost 4 hours, would become the benchmark for every concert I would see. I’d learned all the songs from Born in the USA, so I could sing along when he played anything from that album, but surprisingly there were a number of songs I knew that hadn’t realised were his. Badlands, Prove all night and of course Hungry Heart. The most memorable moment came late in the evening when it started to rain. It was an outdoor concert and prompted by the heavens opening up, Bruce sang Who’ll Stop the Rain and the rain stopped.
Since that night, I’ve been to 3 more Springsteen concerts. The second in 97. The third in 2013 and again in 2014. What hits me the most with his shows is that after the first 4 or 5 songs, I always feel like I’ve got my money’s worth. At the 3 hour mark, I’m exhausted, drained but exhilarated. Night after night, the man bares his heart and soul for his audience. He leaves nothing off stage, he empties the tank (as Jon Stewart said in his speech about Bruce when he was being honoured at the Kennedy Center).
Bruce Springsteen was born 7 days before my mother, 23 September 1949. He is 65 now. He shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down. I know this ride cannot last forever, but I’m going to enjoy while I can. I have a dream, maybe more of a goal than a dream, to see him in concert in New Jersey or at Madison Square Garden. I know it’s cliche, but that would be one of the things I’d like to do before I die.
While Im not going to complain and say my life has been terrible up to this point. At times it has been hard but I know it could have been a lot worse. My first 47 years have been lived in constant fear, of what exactly I can’t say for sure. But the more I write, the closer I get at my shot at redemption…
Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
To the hours and minutes tickin’ away
Yeah just sittin’ around waitin’ for my life to begin
While it was all just slippin’ away
I’m tired of waitin’ for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin’ ’round the bend
I got a new suit of clothes a pretty red rose
And a woman I can call my friend
Better Days, Bruce Springsteen.
Thanks for reading.