When my husband and I started dating I learned he was a big fan of a new rock-n-roller named Bruce Springsteen. At first I didn’t like Springsteen’s music. I wasn’t much into lyrics and these lyrics, when you listened to them, were hard to piece together. The sentences didn’t end with rhyming words and, in fact, the sentences often didn’t fully fill out a stanza. I love to dance so, for me, music had always been about the rhythm. I’m like one of those American Bandstand Rate-A-Record teens when it comes to music. I like it if it’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to. Springsteen’s music is a bit more complicated than that.
Over time, though, I learned to love his music. Maybe I grew up a bit. Maybe I really listened to the words. Born to Run and Thunder Road became our anthems urging us to move beyond our small hometown. A little later, when I was going through what I now suspect was a period of mild depression, Dancing in the Dark came out. The lyrics were me (and it didn’t hurt that it had a good beat and was easy to dance to). Our oldest son fell in love with the song Rosalita and could sing it all the way through before he was four. We became a Springsteen family. After 9-11, the album The Rising gave words to the feelings of loss and grief. The first time I listened to it, we were on a road trip. We put in the CD, my husband drove, I read the lyrics as I listened to the songs, and I cried.
Some songs were the antithesis of our experience or, perhaps, the songs helped us to work at taking a different path.
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
I just act like a don’t remember
Mary acts like she don’t care
That wouldn’t be the marriage we wanted. It isn’t the marriage we grew. Maybe Springsteen’s darker lyrics help us take a brighter road.
We saw Bruce in concert last night. Each time we see him in concert it’s an affirmation of who we are and how we got to this place. I remember arriving at a concert years ago and wondering what was up with all the other people there. My husband and I feel such a personal relationship with Springsteen; it was hard to believe that others might feel the same connection. This morning my ears are still ringing, but I feel a sense of calm, gratitude, and hope. I have lyrics running through my head…
Oh, oh, come take my hand
We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land
…and I feel grateful I took my husband’s hand.