“So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore…”
Our soundtrack of life.
My wife and I vivaciously sung those words from the epic “Thunder Road” two weeks ago at a sold-out Izod Center (an arena originally named after a human being and now a designer collared shirt) while witnessing another historic performance from Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. On that night, that line held a special place for us at that particular moment – seven weeks into parenthood we mutually shared an expression that fostered hope, fear, appreciation and most importantly a bonding of life brought to us by our son, Spencer. This was NOT premeditated experience, rather an exclusively understood moment that carried a certain meaning.
I realized after the fact that it was a very important moment in time and one that can only be delivered by lyrics of that magnitude and scope from a song that has had so many nickels “deposited” into my personal jukebox. At different points of time, the song has been the best prescription to life’s most poignant moments.
In fact, it is that song and the other seven tracks on ‘Born To Run’ (my all-time favorite collection of music) that drove me to bliss, to tears and everything in between at some point or another. It is an album that still to this day transcends age, race, religion…and time. As the late, great Peter Boyle once proclaimed, it was an album with the premise of “failure and redemption,” a struggle that has knocked on all of our doors at some point in life.
If you have followed the evolution of this blog space in its short life span, you realize by now it’s that mixed drink with the concoction of heavy pours of music and life...with a double-shot of Springsteen music thrown in for good measure. Three different times this past week, friends have called to discuss a song or lyrics that had brought them back to one of life’s moments or places, as “Thunder Road” did for us this week.
Dave Chmiel (my writing mentor and journalistic rabbi) and I share a common a devotion to Bruce’s music and its ongoing impact from a sociological standpoint. When I told him about “Thunder Road,” he explained that “Dancing In The Dark” (made famous by the music video with Courtney Cox) held a special place for him when he saw the E Street Band in Philadelphia recently. That was his mother’s favorite Bruce song. That special woman passed away just last year, but Dave explained that the song will always remind him of her.
Dave’s soundtrack of life.
Mike Jaccarino (former NY Daily News and FOX News reporter), a Jersey Shore product by way of Christian Brothers Academy, elaborated on “Open All Night,, Bruce’s masterpiece from the album ‘Nebraska.’ As Mike explained, verbatim, “I imagine Bruce, or myself -- and I've been there as a Jersey guy -- driving home from work on the Turnpike on the wrong side of midnight, praying for a good song to come on so that you don’t have to listen to your thoughts, praying your car, a beat-up ole' wreck, holds out, praying that Wanda is still up and ready for you when you finally do get home.”
Mike’s soundtrack of life.
And finally, Said Hamdan (who despite being many inches shorter than me, fills the role of “big brother”) describing the sweaty Brooklyn nights he spent playing stickball with a transistor radio sticking out of his bedroom window. The line that draws him back to those times is from the tune “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” - “From a tenement window a transistor blasts.” That line could have taken place in Asbury Park or Park Slope. It’s those lyrics that will always draw him back to a period and place within his life.
Said’s soundtrack of life.
Music is a unique gift. Songs carry emotions and emotions evoke songs. They have an innate ability to make life’s happiest time sweeter and down times a bit more manageable. Sometimes they bear the heavy life moments and sometimes just that drive down the Turnpike yesterday or those stickball contests from childhood. There are no rules, just where that proverbial needle drops on that vinyl in a day in a life.
Now I ask of you…What comprises YOUR soundtrack of life?