On Saturday, Oct. 1, in a hotel room in Seattle, I sprung out of bed at 7 a.m., jumped in the shower, threw on my clothes and was out the door.
According my wife of 12 years, it was a record. I had never been up and ready so fast. In my mind, I was seven-years-old again, and this was the day I was going to meet my hero, Bruce Springsteen, who was in town for a book-signing.
I first came to know of “The Boss” at summer camp. Born in the USA had recently been released and one of the other kids incessantly sang/screamed, “I was b-o-o-o-rn in the U.S.A. b-o-o-o-rn in the U.S.A.”
I clearly remember hating them — the song and the kid. I actually got into my very first fist fight because he wouldn’t stop.
Cut to a year later and the song I’m on Fire, off the same album, came out. That was it, I was hooked. I memorized all of the lyrics, and, much like that kid at camp, serenaded all the girls in my Grade 4 class. I’m sure they loved it.
In 1987, Tunnel of Love came out, an album which deals intimately with the struggles between men and women, about love, loss and the hope there may still be something there.
It’s a moody album — not one you’d think a 10-year-old boy from Richmond would connect with. But, for some reason, I did.
In 1992, Springsteen came to the Pacific Coliseum, and I went to the show with my mom. After about three hours, we thought the show was about to end.
I will never forget when my mom suddenly looked at me and said, “That guy just handed Bruce another guitar.” ...and on went the show.
It wasn’t until 2000 that I would see another Springsteen show. He was playing in Tacoma, and I drove down with my girlfriend at the time. I remember being up in the nosebleeds singing and dancing with a lady who brought one of her kids.
My girlfriend and the lady’s daughter just sat there rolling their eyes. My girlfriend and I broke up shortly after.
In 2003, Springsteen was back in Vancouver at the Pacific Coliseum. The show was on a Friday night, and floor tickets were general admission. On Tuesday, around 10 p.m., a line had already started forming outside.
A guy, who I’d never met but wrote to on a Springsteen message board, emailed me, “The line has started, if you want to get in front, you better get down here.”
I picked up the phone and called a girl I had recently started dating.
“Hey do you want to go see Bruce Springsteen with me on Friday?”
“Yeah, okay,” she said.
“Meet me at my place and we’ll drive there together, cause we’ve got to get in line now.”
“Wait, what? Now? It’s Tuesday?” She came over, we went down, and took our place in line which, indeed, had started to form.
We met the guy from the message board (ironically named Bruce) and we laughed, told stories, played music and cards until we got to the front row on Friday.
Since then, I have been to see Bruce Springsteen all over the world with that girl who, you may have guessed, is now my wife.
My friend Bruce is now one of my dearest friends. I vividly remember when he told me he was going to ask his girlfriend Karen to marry him.
I have been with him when his two beautiful children were born.
I have formed lifelong friendships with people from all over this planet.
Richelle and I drank beer at a show in the pouring rain in Florence, Italy with a bunch of Germans; we’ve sung our lungs and hearts out in Florida with Robert and Kim when we didn’t get in the pit together; we’ve heard Thunder Road in Belfast with Alexis and Tim from Iowa.
You could hear a pin drop in a stadium of 30,000 people. And, conversely, during one of those quiet moments at a show that most definitely didn’t need one drunken fan’s encouraging screams of “play Born to Run.”
I have heard my friend Nick DiFranco from Red Bank, NJ put the drunk guy in his place in a way only a guy from New Jersey could. Everyone cheered; Nick’s one of the good guys.
So, what do I say to Bruce Springsteen? I’ve got 30 seconds and I want to say it all.
I want to say that I have formed relationships thanks to him, seen parts of the world I may never have seen, thanks to him, and loved every second of it. Without him, I know my life wouldn’t be the same.
Almost everything in my life has a connection to him in some fashion and the memories and experiences have been something I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars.
But I’ve got 30 seconds, so what do I say?
Well, it starts with an embrace.
“Thanks for doing this, Bruce, it really means a lot.”
He didn’t break eye contact with me. He shook my hand, put his arm on my shoulder and didn’t let go. I feel like, in that short time with our eyes locked, he understood, everything. He somehow knew all of it.