Bruce Springsteen turns 70 today! To celebrate we’ve put the wrapping paper around our 10 Springsteen stories.

The birthday gift includes takes on classics such The River, State Trooper, Growin’ Up, Racing In The Street, and Drive All Night and – to show that we’re up with Springsteen’s latest music – Hitch Hikin’.

Some quotes as you unwrap the present:

For my 17th birthday he gives me my own double album copy of The River, and today this is what he puts on. As we listen to how poor old Mary got pregnant, he is fumbling for something in his Velcro surf wallet on the side table. I lean back on my elbows and watch him as bites his lip with concentration…

Dr G listens as Bruce purrs the first track of Western Stars, the album that came out just a few weeks ago. “This would be perfect for someone learning English!”

Pat introduced me to Bruce Springsteen in the garage at Monash Avenue. We couldn’t have been older than 12 and 13. The River had been out for a while; Pat sang it word for word – slowly, deliberately. I couldn’t relate to the tough times Bruce spoke of, but Pat sang The River like an anthem. He was telling me his own story.

In the car, the song was all alone. Not part of the bigger picture of the double album, the broader narrative, that included the brooding tone of Independence Day and Point Blank, and rockers like Hungry Heart and Cadillac Ranch. Here it was just Glen Hansard. And two brothers sitting in a car.

As a teenage boy in a dark suburban room, I was a long way from the turnpikes of New Jersey. I didn’t have a job, a car or a girl, just an Apollo 10-speed bicycle and a dungeon I called my own. What on earth was I connecting with here?

Five songs in and I was wrung out. No light, no shade on this album. Black rivers. Serial killers.

Everyone I’d grown up with was changing: getting jobs, having kids, moving away, finding new friends etc.

The busker had an audience of one, as I stood there off to the side, trying not to look too conspicuous.

The ghost of Tom Joad feels trapped/He is but a spirit in the night,/remembering the love of a Jersey girl./A reason to believe takes him through the tunnel of love and beyond the badlands

 

As one of readers commented just last week (on Jane Leonard’s story about The River):
‘Who doesn’t have memories forever attached to some of Bruce’s songs?’

All the stories: The Bruce Springsteen Stereo Stories Collection