I never did get to meet Bruce Springsteen. I still love his music. I still remember the day in 1974 when my oldest brother was babysitting and took me to a party in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh where our friend Bush was living. It was a college party, a heady thing for a high school kid, but what I remember most was the moment I heard this one song coming from these massive speakers. It just seemed to take me in. I stopped noticing anything else around me. This guy was singing to a girl named Sandy about a boardwalk somewhere and love. His voice was raspy and urgent and it hit me in a few places. I could feel the longing and the soulfulness and the poetry in his words. It was a perfect time in my life for teenage salvation and from that moment on, and for a very long time, my heart sought refuge in the music of Bruce.
I saw Springsteen within a year of that. It was at the Syria Mosque (now torn down), also in Oakland. I remember what I was wearing ( a pink buttoned down shirt and jeans and white converse sneakers) and that my cousin Judy and I had tickets in the second row. I felt a part of each moment, each syllable. My cousin and I screamed, and stood mesmerized—swapping one emotional pitch for another as if conducted. I remember feeling, at the core of my being that this was one of the most important nights of my life and mostly, that I didn’t want it to end.
I have seen Bruce a couple of dozen times since then in college gyms, and concert halls, small arenas, and giant stadiums. I’ve watched him in Pittsburgh, Hartford, New York City, La Trobe, Pa., the Meadowlands, Saratoga, NY, Denver Co,, Burlington, Vermont—multiple times in many of these spots. My favorite night was in 1979. It should be mentioned that that was the year of Darkness on the Edge of Town, and that summer I was a waitress at the Jersey Shore. I remember an almost two-week stretch of rain where all I did was wake up and head out to our garage, a freestanding structure in our backyard where my mom insisted we keep the stereo— to listen to Bruce. I’d listen for hours and then go to work, hoisting large trays of seafood and serving sun-burned vacationers.
That fall, I headed off to Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. I was not thrilled with the idea of college, but I didn’t have any better ideas. I felt very out of place at Trinity—I was a public school kid with a foul mouth, surrounded by a well-mannered boarding school crowd. I was feeling whatever the opposite of in a groove is, and so when I heard Bruce was playing in Burlington, Vermont, I bought myself a bus ticket with my waitressing money. I called a friend who I knew at the University and asked if I could crash on her floor. Beyond her ‘yes,’ response, I just hoped that somehow I’d score a ticket. I did almost immediately upon arrival—a second row seat, I bought from the boyfriend of her roommate. A karmic lotto win if ever there was one.
The night was beyond anything I could have imagined. I was alone, although, of course, I felt like I was not alone because I was with Bruce and he sang for me (at least that’s how it felt and I’m pretty sure I had large company in those feelings). There was a moment when he held up his two fists at me and sang: ” Show a little faith.” I say he did this at me because I was standing on top of my chair in the second row and there was no one in between his eyes and mine. I held up my two fists back at him in response, and he went on to finish the line, “there’s magic in the night.”
There was magic. More than three hours of it. And I was revved and inspired and feeling truly charged to the possibility of something, even if I wasn’t sure exactly what that something was. I had been transported somewhere, that’s all I can say. I was also partially deaf from being so close to the speakers and my ears rang for days. I remember smiling for a long, long time and reading Pride and Prejudice on the bus ride home. Even at the time, I knew it was an adventure I would hold onto forever.
Three decades, two children, one divorce, one engagement—myriad celebrations and sadness-es and just basically, a real wonderful, real imperfect life later, I don’t care about meeting Bruce Springsteen. I’ve spent a good part of my life interviewing celebrities and maybe that’s helped me to realize that I don’t want anything more than what I have or have already been given by the music. When I get married for the second (and last) time this September, my fiance, Scott, and I have already mutually agreed about the first song we will dance to as husband and wife. It’s about love and friendship and hanging in for the long haul and it’s called “If I Should Fall Behind.” It was written by Bruce Springsteen. But I won’t be thinking about Bruce. I’ll be thinking about a love of my own and the sweet, Canadian guy across from me who’ll be holding my hand and singing along.
(Read more from Kate Meyers at IAMMINIVAN.com)