Anyone who knows me or has read enough of my writing knows I am a lifelong obsessed Bruce Springsteen fan. On the heels of the release of his 17th studio album, it’s nice to see all of the excitement in the air as he does promotions ranging from opening the Grammy’s to Bruce week on Jimmy Fallon. Well it’s mostly nice.
Last week, Spin posted on their website Bruce Springsteen’s 13 Most Alt-Leaning Songs. Is it awesome? Of course. Is Bruce deserving of alt cred? Yes. But what I find troubling is that the cool people are now telling us that Bruce is cool. I mean they’re right. He is cool. And people who were at least teenagers from around 1974-1975 through about 1989 have known this. But those of us who went to high school in the ’90s who were devoted to The Boss were not always a large group. Trust me, sporting a World Tour ’92-’93 shirt was not going to serve as an ice breaker with the hot girl in Spanish class. I suppose she might have said that her father liked Bruce but she almost certainly would have noted that he was super lame. And it wasn’t just the hot girls. Or even the guys. It was the teachers too. In my guitar class, once you achieved a certain level of aptitude the instructor would teach you Stairway to Heaven. This was around the same time Wayne’s World came out and yet the man wouldn’t come up with an alternate. When I said that I’d rather learn Bruce’s Atlantic City, he was baffled. Why would someone my age in 1993 want to learn a Springsteen song. The man was middle-aged, over the hill, burnt-out, and without The E Street Band. But I knew better. Maybe his new band didn’t have Clarence, but they were still pretty good. And I refused to believe that the man had written his last great song.
I was right. Less than a year later, Springsteen won a Grammy and an Oscar for Streets of Philadelphia. And then he had a brief reunion with E Street when he released his Greatest Hits album the following year. Then he released the prolific The Ghost of Tom Joad. Momentum was picking up and once he made the reunion official in 1999, Bruce was back on top. And now, everywhere you look, people are Brooocing.
So shouldn’t I feel happy that I was right all this time? I mean after all, now people of all ages are enjoying the music that has been such a big part of the soundtrack of my life for 30 years. But it’s not like investing. It’s not like I am getting a big payout for blasting Prove It All Night in 1993 instead of Snow’s Informer (though perhaps I should). And I certainly can’t be considered a visionary. He had already been a star for 10 years before I was old enough to know who he was. For me, being a fan of Bruce Springsteen is sort of like being a Yankee fan in the Tri-State area in 1986. For a time, everyone went over to the Mets to enjoy their success but, once the good times shifted back to where they belonged, everyone followed suit.
So where does that leave me? Same place I’ve always been; at the show. Next to people in tight jeans and ironic tee shirts, as well as people who give the devil horns during Dancing in the Dark (I think I know what I am going to write about next time).