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FUV Essentials: Russ Borris on Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen (photo by Antonio Rossi, PR)

Bruce Springsteen (photo by Antonio Rossi, PR)

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As a lifelong Jersey guy, the music of Bruce Springsteen has always been somewhat embedded in my DNA. It is a source of pride, comfort, and hope. For me, it is something that began as a kid, but didn’t fully form until years later.

I mean, I understood who Bruce was and what he meant to the locals, but not how much. As I got older, words started to speak to me more and I started to make the connection. Springsteen’s music is so closely tied to his home state, possibly more than any other artist. But why? Is it because we Jerseyans understand strife? We relate better to the struggles of the everyday? Or is it that we’re tramps? I don’t know. I do know, however, that there isn’t a single emotion that a human being can feel that can’t be summed up or echoed through a song written by Bruce Springsteen.

This is, of course, to say nothing of the live experience. Sure, it is something that concertgoers have talked about for years. The man is held in such high regard, it seems like no other artist could handle or live up to the praise that follows his every tour. And yet here he is, out on the road again with "The River Tour." With countless three-hour-plus shows in city after city, Springsteen demonstrates his love of his craft as well as his audience, giving every ounce of his being as an entertainer and leaving nothing on the table. It’s more than impressive, it’s inspirational. If a live Springsteen show doesn’t make you re-examine your own work ethic and light some kind of fire under you, I don’t know what will.

For me, though, it’s often been about the ballads. I’m more of a Nebraska guy than Born to Run. Songs like “Stolen Car” and “Streets of Philadelphia” have always resonated with me more than “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” or “Dancing in the Dark.” And that’s okay. The true appeal of Springsteen is the relatability of his words and his ability to reach you as an individual, all while still being a “Jersey” guy. He shows up unannounced at local clubs in Asbury Park. He dances with 90-year-olds at live shows. There’s nothing but real here. But, if you’re relatively new to the genius of Bruce, let the lyrics of “Candy’s Room” set things in motion for you because, “Baby if you wanna be wild, you’ve got a lot to learn.” Learning is the key.

Sure, Bruce can rest on his laurels and back catalog and continue to successfully tour. But, he’s still moving forward, still growing. He remains one of the most relevant songwriters of his generation and shows no signs of slowing down. That may be the biggest lesson to take from all Bruce has taught us. Live. Grow. Evolve. But, never forget where you came from.

Jersey, man. It all comes back to Jersey.