Bruce Springsteen got me through the summer of 1984. I’d just graduated from college. Most of my friends had moved away, but the lease on my apartment lasted ’til August, so I stayed behind. I worked construction for a while before landing my first “real” job as a newspaper reporter, but it was part-time and temporary. And my boyfriend dumped me. All in all, I felt like a failure.
But then came Bruce. Born in the USA, he was dancing in the dark and speaking of glory days. His words and his music gave me strength. I scraped together the cash to buy the album, and many nights that summer I listened to his gospel, committing his message to memory.
Summer ended, my reporting job increased to full time and long-term, and I moved on from my college surroundings. But Bruce stayed with me, offering wisdom and comfort whenever I spun his record on the turntable.
Eventually, I rented my very own apartment. To celebrate, I purchased Bruce’s Born in the USA poster, framed it, and hung it on my wall. I wasn’t creating a shrine; rather, I was declaring my own independence.
Bruce’s music continued to inform me as I acquired his albums (on vinyl and CD) over the years. My kids grew up hearing their mama sing along with Bruce. They and my husband knew that if Bruce released a new album, I intended to get it. I saw Bruce in concert in 1992 and again in 2012 during an Organizing for America “Iowa for Obama” campaign stop. (I have a Bruce poster from that event, too.)
My college-age daughter has inherited my first Bruce poster, which she now displays on her wall. She also inherited my appreciation for Bruce’s music, which she listens to on her iPod. Some of her friends think she’s weird for liking this “old” man’s music. But the truth is, Bruce is still speaking* to those of us of any age who choose to listen.
*With all due respect to the United Church of Christ’s “God is still speaking,” campaign.