PULLIN' OUTTA HERE TO WIN: Read our Springsteen Story contest winners!
This was HARD!
We received more than 25 responses to our contest asking Blogness on the Edge of Town readers to share their Springsteen stories, and just like the stories in "For You: Original Stories and Photographs by Bruce Springsteen's Legendary Fans," they captured the magic and the majesty of being a Springsteen fan. And picking our favorites was quite a challenge.
But we had to narrow it down, and after consulting with "For You" book publisher Lawrence Kirsch and the assembled Blogness staff, we came up with our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place choices. First place winner receives a copy of "For You" courtesy of Kirsch Communications, while our second and third place winners will get copies of "Glory Days: Springsteen's Greatest Albums" by yours truly.
Thanks to all our entrants! Please read our winners below, and check back later this week for highlights from our honorable mention submissions. And if you didn't enter, it's not too late to share your Springsteen story in the comments.
FIRST PLACE: Martin Majewski, Texas, U.S.A.
My introduction to Bruce came about by chance of fate, or Mother Nature.
When I was 9 years old, in 1979, we had a huge tornado that tore through our town, destroying thousands of homes, including mine. When it was over, we had nothing left. Everything I had a few minutes ago, including my stereo and records and 8-tracks, were all gone.
We climbed out over the rubble to go check on my grandparents across the street and other neighbors. While walking around checking out damage, I saw an 8-track on the ground. It wasn't mine, I had no idea where it came from. It was some guy named Bruce Springsteen, album called “Born to Run.” At that point it was the only possession I owned, and I didn't know who this guy was.
Later that night my sisters and I went and stayed across town at a relative's house. I was horribly terrified by what had happened earlier in the day, but I put that 8-track in the player, and the music that began playing spoke to me, even as a 9-year-old kid. They weren't just songs, they were stories, stories that allowed my mind to drift and forget about the events of earlier in the day.
Of all the classic songs on that album, the one that caught me the most was "Meeting Across the River." I must've listened to that album eight or nine times during that night, learning the characters’ names … Terry from "Backstreets,” Mary from "Thunder Road,” the Rangers and Magic Rat from "Jungleland," and of course Eddie and his pal from "Meeting Across the River."
That fateful day changed a 9-year-old's life, introducing me to the music of someone that I would eventually become obsessed with. We lost everything that day in April, but I gained one of the most important and meaningful things in my life to this day … Bruce Springsteen!
SECOND PLACE: Rob Azevedo, Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
This is a tale of raw stupidity, and it all starts with desertion.
With that, I’ll get right into it.
Because I’m a Bruce Springsteen cultist, I decided to leave the sweet bosom of New Hampshire for one day only and hit the Jersey Shore.
Out of that fever and a well-developed hunch-meter hatched over 25 years, I rallied a buddy from Manchester and my brother for an all-out road trip to Asbury Park, New Jersey to find The Boss.
I was 40 and should be embarrassed that I still tracked the then-60-year-old songwriter with such abandonment, but not Dr J.
To me, Springsteen’s as iconic as they come, right there with seersucker suits, cigar smoke and Daniel Webster.
I really don’t know how I’d answer if someone offered me an hour of face-time with either Bruce or Jesus. I’d likely extend my hand to the bearded savior and say, “Well, I really hope I get to see you again someday. You and Nana that is.”
First thing I thought as we curved around the Jersey shoreline near Deal was, “What’s up with Hampton Beach? Can’t even find a spot to rinse the sand off my feet there.”
When we reached Asbury Park the atmosphere on the boardwalk only solidified my intuitiveness. My decision to abandon the Granite State for one day was the right decision, damn it! The Wild Rover will be there tomorrow, as will my wife, children and work. He will not.
The night was falling into place. Alejandro Escovedo, a terrific rocker from Austin, Texas, was on stage at the Stone Pony, the Sistine Chapel of rock clubs. Escovedo alone is worth the five-hour trek to see play. He’s just too slick to explain.
He and Mr. Bruce, who lives just up the road in Rumson, collaborated recently on a few songs, and my gut said Bruce would show up at the club this night, late, almost at closing, and rip a few gems with his buddy Alejandro.
The night progressed. More VO’s and beer and something red. Lots of hopeful chatter about possibility and chance.
In-and-out we went with the doorman’s consent. His body language was allowing the heathens to freely come and go. Just show the wristband when you come back in. Simple stuff.
Oh, Escovedo was killing it. We were maybe 20 feet from the small stage inside the Pony. The energy was swallowing us up. Everyone feeling what I was feeling.
Escovedo plays a couple more songs. It’s late in the evening now, but not that late. My buddy and I decide to step outside for some “fresh air.” One last time. Then let God take over.
I shout to my pal, “Finish up. I can smell him. He’s here.”
We tap out, turn around, wrists up, respecting the law.
A new face appears before us, something much bigger, thicker than the former doorman.
“No one’s coming in,” the monster says to us.
“But I got the wristband,” I say.
“Doors are closed.”
Somewhere a father drops an easy home run ball in front of his son. A bride faints at the altar. A heart stops beating.
I cry and plead, bribing the doorman with my Hyundai.
No chance, he says.
Inside, the club begins to swell. I’m blown backwards by the reverberations coming from inside.
Bruce is now onstage.
I begged unto the beast, “I came all the way down from New Hampshire! Please!”
Half-hour later, around the time Bruce and Alejandro were tearing into “Beast of Burden,” I’m face down in my pillow at the hotel, dejected as if I just got a DWI. I prayed to be mind-swept. I tried to shower. Nothing worked.
It was an unfathomable brain fart, worthy of a thousand lashings and a weekend of being waterboarded.
But I suppose, that’s what I get for leaving New Hampshire.
Never do that again.
THIRD PLACE: John & Christine Malloy, Florida, U.S.A.
I have seen over 100 shows, but the most memorable was Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2016 with my girlfriend Christine. We were in the pit in Virginia Beach. I made a sign that stated: “This Jersey guy will propose to this Jersey Girl during a Full Band Thunder Road.”
Bruce saw it and called us to the front of the stage and took the sign. After collecting a few more signs he looked at us and said, “Are you ready? Where is the man?”
I held my hand up with the ring, and he and the band rocked “Thunder Road”! Bruce and Jake serenaded us and acknowledged us during the whole song.
Talk about a memory! We are now happily married, living in our beautiful house in Orlando, Florida.