I’ve written pages and pages about Springsteen over the years: in my journals, in notebooks, even in a few high school English class papers (those definitely got As). I have multiple unpublished drafts on this blog that attempt to describe the impact his music has had on my life, but none of them ever feel complete. There’s too much I want to say and – because I’m not Springsteen, of course – I can’t find the words.
So I’m ditching that paradigm for now – the quest for the perfect words to describe everything I feel about his music and its influence on my life – and instead pedaling slowly on the stationary bike inside my house, watching the Springsteen documentary “Wings for Wheels” on the computer screen set in front of me, typing these words out on my phone as they come to me.
It’s no coincidence I’m watching and writing about Springsteen in the midst of this global crisis; his music is where I’ve always turned in personal times of crisis. I think back to deaths in my family, or when I’ve received difficult news or experienced bouts of serious depression…whenever I was grieving and needed hope, his music was there.
“Religion” is a loaded word and it sounds dramatic (not to mention slightly concerning?) to proclaim Springsteen’s music as my religion. But if you think about the purpose of religion in people’s lives, it’s often for that very reason: to instill faith and hope in dark and difficult times. (“Show a little faith,” I’m now singing to myself.)
There’s a solid chance I sound crazy to some of you (to be fair, last time I went to a Springsteen show the couple next to me alarmedly asked if I was ok when I started sobbing during the piano introduction to “Backstreets”) but in this – or any – time of crisis, it’s essential to have something that brings you hope. Maybe that’s religion (in the conventional sense of the word), maybe that’s music, maybe that’s art, maybe that’s family or friends.
In the words of the great Clarence Clemons, legendary saxophonist and member of Bruce’s E-Street band, “When a fan says, ‘Man, you saved my life; I heard [your sax solo on] Jungleland … and I cried … and I felt joy in my life again,’ that’s my hall of fame.”
Maybe one day I’ll find the right words to explain the role of Bruce’s music in my life; maybe I won’t. I guess that’s what faith and magic and music are all about.