Thoughts on Bruce Springsteen & New Jersey

Driving along the Garden State Parkway, windows down, and Bruce Stpringsteen’s classic album Born To Run blasting in the background, three thoughts come to mind:

  • My car has nice pickup
  • Bruce Springsteen is awesome
  • I like New Jersey

I was born and raised in New York. If I got my hands on a time-machine, and traveled back to 1998 to tell adolescent me, “You’re going to live in New Jersey, and you’re going to enjoy it.” 1998 me would have burst out laughing, then returned to playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, on Nintendo 64 (because that’s how I rolled).

Part of growing up in New York, is laughing at Jersey… It’s not a big part, but it’s a fairly universal experience from what I’ve seen.

I also didn’t really like Bruce, or understand his music until I moved to New Jersey.

I fell in love with Bruce’s music when I was working long days; going to school for my masters in the evenings; writing this blog at night; and struggling to find a girl with whom I could have a meaningful relationship. It was a lot, and it was taking a toll on me.

One night I listened to Born To Run, and Darkness on the Edge of Town in their entirety, while working on a paper, and something had changed. The music actually made sense to me, and I related to it, and not just those two albums… From that point on, I heard all of his music differently, but I couldn’t put into words. I tried, but even my most eloquent writing seemed to fall short of what I was feeling.

A few months ago, Jon Stewart introduced Bruce at the Kennedy Center Awards, and he hit the nail on the head. He explained Bruce perfectly:

A couple of  weeks ago I took a trip to Chicago. When I landed back in New Jersey, I got into my car, turned it on, and Thunder Road boomed out of the speakers. I thought to myself, “I really like it in Jersey.”

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Bruce Springsteen & New Jersey

  1. This is quite an accreditation coming from someone from the Empire State! But I’m right there with you. In 1998, if you had told me that I’d be moving to New Jersey (from Philly) and that I’d enjoy it, I’d burst out laughing, and gone back listening to some Stone Temple Pilots. But then a funny thing happened…my career took a turn and I did end up in New Jersey. And it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was better than not bad. I started to get into it’s history and presidents. It’s horse farms and highways and diners. From my vantage point in Central NJ, I was an hour to Philly, an hour to Manhattan, an hour to the Poconos and, best of all, 40 minutes to the beach. And that means close to The Stone Pony and all the other historical rock references there are to be had in New Jersey. I ended up marrying a “Jersey girl” and now have one of my own. I too came to know and love NJ through the music of Springsteen, so much so that my own blog is called “JerseyStyle.” Because it’s true…there is a particular Jersey Style. It’s hard to capture but to me it’s palpable. No nonsense. Blue collar. Work Ethic. (though morally bankrupt in the political arena but hey..). New Jersey IS NOT Snookie or The Situation. NJ is a state of hard-working people and beautiful land.

    Whenever I travel abroad, and return home to Newark Liberty Aiport, and the customs agent looks at my passport and says “Welcome home”…that’s how I feel. I’m home.

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