Summer and Springsteen

Like cotton candy and sticky fingers, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and warm nights in the yard catching fireflies, the music of Bruce Springsteen means summer to me.

Summer and Springsteen

Springsteen, just a regular Jersey boy.

When I was in college I had a summer job at the Jersey shore – a rite of passage for many of us who live in the northeast. Shucking clams by day and partying by night, surviving both romantic flings and crushing heartbreaks, I had the time of my life.

I worked in a beach community on a small barrier island a far cry from the glitz of Atlantic City, without a boardwalk or large concert halls. There were few venues for musical entertainment other than smoky motel bars or dilapidated watering holes like The Acme and The Rip Tide that we college kids flocked to night after night. If you wanted to hear live music, you might catch a local act. Or you might get lucky and witness a performance that in time would become legendary.

This is what happened to us.

Bruce Who?

We heard one day that there would be a performer at the improbably named Le Garage, a small warehouse that was usually a venue for teen dances. Some guy named Bruce Springsteen was performing. No one had ever heard of him, but we had nothing else to do that night, so why not.

Summer and Springsteen

From the book “All Things LBI” (Down the Shore Publishing)

At 10:30 that night the place was full. How many it held, I don’t remember, but probably not more than a couple hundred stood perspiring in the heat. The lights were dimmed as we waited for the show to begin. Bruce Springsteen, in all his grungy, unknown glory, his guitar slung across his hips, ambled out on center stage blanketed in a spotlight. He opened with the song was 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy). That voice, as gritty as the sand between the rocks in Barnegat Light, that song, so Jersey shore soulful, that moment, that would become a memory to cherish. The crowd was spellbound and the ovation that followed was thunderous.

That man would become The Boss.

As of that night I was a fan forevermore, and this song would always evoke a pang about that moment, the salt air, my sunburned shoulders and peasant blouse I wore, how our ears rang as we walked out into the night air talking about the music.

Over the years my devotion to Bruce has never wavered and to my delight, the Boss published his autobiography, Born to Run, which fans and critics alike have enthusiastically endorsed. When a fellow Bruce fan and friend of mine raved about the audiobook version, I made it my next Audible selection.

So here is the thing about autobiographies on audiobooks narrated by their authors: you feel like you are having a private conversation with this person. I loved hearing Springsteen talk about his early years in Freehold, his introduction to the music world, and everything that came after. I loved hearing him talk about meeting Stevie Van Zandt, another Jersey musician trying to make it in a competitive business.

No surprise, Springsteen is a gifted writer, and I was as blown away by his book as I was by seeing him live at that little club so many years ago.

Here is Springsteen just a few years after I first saw him, performing 4th of July, Asbury Park, (Sandy) live. I would see him in concert again and again, but that first time was the best by far.


And Happy Summer.

Do you use Audible? You can try it out for a month by going to Audible’s free trial site and have access to hundreds of titles.


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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38 Thoughts on “Summer and Springsteen

  1. He was certainly destined for greatness for the many gifts he shares with the world. He has a grasp on the human condition and the plight of the working man. He is us. But more than that, he first and foremost belongs New Jerseyans (and those who cross over from PA….) who love life “down the shore”.

    I love this story. He will forever be part of my heart, too. When I was in college I saw him twice in two weeks! One week in NJ and the next in Boston.

    I wish I was with you that night long ago when you saw him before he was The Boss. Oh, what a sweet memory, Helene. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    See you soon down the shore I hope! xoxo

    • hbludman on May 19, 2017 at 8:39 am said:

      You are so right, Cathy. Who knew back then that not only would be become a legend, he would also be the voice of comfort and reason over and over again. See you down the shore, my friend.

  2. I grew up on his music, but had no idea he wrote (outside of music). We used to have a teen dance club called “The Garage”. I wonder if it borrowed it’s name from the one that The Boss started in?

    • hbludman on May 19, 2017 at 8:39 am said:

      I wonder, Alicia! I never understood how this place got its name.

  3. I need to look out for Springsteen books!!.

    Never got the chance to see him performing live.. Lucky you who got him to see live. Thanks for sharing this story.

  4. I love Bruce Springsteen. I grew up listening to him with my dad. He actually went to a concert and got his ticket autographed, so cool!

  5. Lucy Harding on May 18, 2017 at 4:57 pm said:

    Helene, I loved this blog. I too am a big Bruce fan and have been going to his concerts since 1975. Awesome book… I just may have to get the audio!!

  6. It’s pretty cool to be able to say you saw a major act perform before they were known. It must be cool to have seen his development over the years and even hear his account of the same night you saw him (or maybe ones similar).

  7. What an experience it would have been to watch him perform with such a small crowd by comparison to his later audience size. That will be a time I’m sure you will never forget and it was really enjoyable to read you sharing it here.

  8. Claudia Krusch on May 18, 2017 at 11:55 pm said:

    I would love to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. I have been hearing rumors he might be in my area this summer.

  9. Akamatra on May 19, 2017 at 9:35 am said:

    You are trully lucky to be able to say that you heard him when he was starting out! I didn’t know about the book but it’s no surprise is it? He is after all super talented!

  10. What a great background story for Bruce! I’ll have to watch out for his show locations. Don’t you just love all things summer ?!?

  11. I have heard that Bruce Springsteen is even more electrifying live and he sounds pretty good in the clips so what a great show it would be. Audible sounds great x

  12. What a wonderful story! We normally see so many talented people performing in small places or on the streets and sometimes I wonder what happened to them. It’s amazing that you were able to memorize his name and follow up closely on his legendary career! I’ve been to his concert once and he’s really everything that you said!

  13. What a wonderful story! We normally see so many talented people performing in small places or on the streets and sometimes I wonder what happened to them. It’s amazing that you were able to memorize his name and follow up closely on his legendary career! I’ve been to his concert once and he’s really everything you said!

    • hbludman on May 19, 2017 at 6:59 pm said:

      Thank you, Renata! He really is an incredible performer, and always was.

  14. Michelle Waller on May 19, 2017 at 2:10 pm said:

    I have never really listened to his music before, but my mom loved listening to him. I am going to have to share this with her.

  15. I have always wanted to see him in concert. Maybe one day !

  16. I haven’t heard any of his songs until now. But maybe my husband and father-in-law knows him, they have the same taste in music! 😉

  17. I didn’t know he had books! I’ll have to check them and audible out!

    • hbludman on May 22, 2017 at 9:09 am said:

      So far this is the first — who knows, maybe there will be a sequel?

  18. I grew up with his music. I’m sure my mother would love this blog post. What a wonderful story!

  19. I have heard a lot about Bruce Springsteen but I was never a fan. he must have been such a hearthrob!

  20. Great post! Love The Boss!

  21. Don’t judge me but he was the one that sang jesse’s girl right? I’m barely old enough to maybe remember this!

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