June 12, 2017
Of the many factors that led me to the west coast in the summer of '74, Bruce Springsteen has to be included. I wasn't really aware of his first album Greetings From Asbury Park, but when THE WILD, THE INNOCENT AND THE E STREET SHUFFLE came out it hit something inside that resonates to this day - as it does for all, as it does for all. I remember being so obsessed with that album that I sat down at the piano at school and taught myself the beautiful David Sanches opening to NEW YORK CITY SERENADE. I was stunned by it's breadth and lyric beauty, by Springsteen gentle vocal approach, the arrangement, everything. Perfect song. I had never heard anything so sweeping, vulnerable and courageous in rock and to this day it stands above all others, in my humble opinion. He was twenty three or four when he recorded it which is remarkable that someone so young could write and produce something so musically sophisticated and still keep it "street". That's what always amazes me about The Boss...the joy of performing mixed with street and vulnerability and poetry and a band to end all bands. John Hammond must have melted the first time he heard that music, and even though it didn't sell well John fought to keep Springsteen on the label. Imagine a musical universe with no Springsteen from 1975 on. He came that close to getting axed. Like Princeton firing Einstein after formulating the Theory of Relativity. "We really love it, Albert, but how are we going to sell this to the public? It's just so darn complicated and ahead of it's time...if you'll pardon the pun."
The world he created in that album, the characters.....so rich and textured you could feel, hear, smell them. You could feel the heat of those hot summer beach nights on the boulevard in Asbury Park. Remarkable record.
It was a world I was all too familiar with when I compared my experiences from Ocean City, NJ, Wildwood, Cape May, LBI. There is something about summers down at the Shore that fueled this desire the search out remarkable people and experience ala Gurdjieff minus the head games if you catch my drift. Springsteen's music was like hitting the accelerator on my spiritual quest what with ROSALITA come stand next to my fire, there's a little cafe down San Diego way we can sit in the back room where they play guitars all night and day..... The passion in these songs made it seem that the obvious next step was to bust on out of Jersey and get to the west coast as fast as I could and that's exactly what I did. A young man sitting in his room blasting The Boss and dreaming of a better life. Much gratitude to that brilliant artist/humanitarian/husband/dad for having the courage to demand that that album be created in that form. We will never see it's like again. A Bird In Space. Guernica. The Mona Lisa. David. A Season In Hell. Gravity's Rainbow. The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.
Nikki leapt into my arms shouting "You escaped!" and we held that embrace for what seemed like an hour. Then she said perhaps the most heartbreaking thing I have ever heard "I want you to meet my boyfriend!" She called out "Fredo!". I struggled to breath but what could I do? She took my hand and walked me to the small, wooden kitchen table "You want some food? You must be starving" and before I could say the house special in walked Fredo........