Jack Gramski
Western suburbs, Melbourne, circa 2005

When I was about 16 I heard Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A song and didn’t like it. I thought it was dumb and hated it. It put me off listening to Springsteen again.

A few years passed, I left school. I got a job working at a bakery that always had Gold 104.3 in the background. Strangely enough, every time I was on the cleaning shift, around exactly the same time, Mannfred Mann’s version of Blinded By The Light came on. I liked it. I liked it so much that I’d sing the words Blinded by the light at random times, which probably annoyed people.

I looked up the song on Wikipedia and found out it was a Springsteen song, from his first album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.

I bought the album as soon as I could but didn’t like Springsteen’s original version. It sounded nothing like the Mannfred Mann version. But once Blinded By The Light finished, the next track, Growin’ Up, began. It started with a simple, gentle piano riff and then busted out into this Dylan- like song. It became one of my favourite songs right then and there.

The main reason why I love the song (beside the catchy music) is because when I heard the song I was growing up… that sounds really corny, but it’s true. I’d just finished school and entered the workforce, which was completely different to the safe and sheltered environment of a classroom.

Major changes were happening. Everyone I’d grown up with was changing: getting jobs, having kids, moving away, finding new friends etc. It was a very confusing point in time and that’s why Growin’ Up was a song that spoke to me. The internal monologue tone of the lyrics (Well I stood stone like at midnight/Suspended in my masquerade) helped me make sense of what was going on. Springsteen wrote and performed it so perfectly, that I honestly couldn’t think of better lyrics or music to express that feeling of, yes, growing up.

As for Born In The USA, today, I look back and realise I was just as dumb as those politicians who used that song for their political campaigns.

Jack Gramski at Newport Bowls Club, 2014. Photo by Nick Gadd.

Jack Gramski at Newport Bowls Club, 2014. Photo by Nick Gadd.