After buying it, she asked the guys at the record store ‘what is the best?’ What ‘CDs’ sounded so great that he would know that this was the future, and that the amazingly cool upright silver turntable Dad so cherished would soon be a thing of the past. There may have been other discs that Christmas morning, but I only remember two. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Live 75/85.
If you read this blog you will be exposed to all of our musical obsessions. They are many and varied and probably not the same as yours. But somehow Springsteen has been the bridge that allowed Dad and I to come to this point, and has certainly been my biggest musical obsession (ask my wife and friends). I won’t claim that I was hooked for life on that Christmas morning in 1986, or by the dubbed copy of Born to Run I frequently borrowed from Dad’s (beautiful handmade) cassette rack, or even by Born in the USA, all the rage on MTV a couple years prior, but the seed was planted.
Needless to say, Dark Side of the Moon was amazing for a 10 year old hearing a CD, and really Rock and Roll, for the first time. I don’t recall the songs speaking to me, but man did they sound good. Springsteen was different. Then, on that three disc set, I only specifically remember two songs, Backstreets and Born in the USA. Backstreets was epic both lyrically and musically and remains one of my favorite Bruce songs, no explanation needed. But that live version of Born in the
was like nothing I had ever heard. The vocal and music were edgy and aggressive, Max’s snare drum sounded like a shotgun and even then the message of the song was confusing. Without understanding, I immediately decided two things; I would love to see this band live someday and this would be my intro music during our neighborhood ‘wrestling’ tournaments. USA
Basically that was it for about 12 years. I liked Springsteen, liked it when I heard his songs on the radio, appreciated that he was one of our great singer songwriters. I was obsessed with other bands and felt like I had come to appreciate and understand Rock and Roll. Then in college a friend played me The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle on his souped up car stereo one afternoon. Besides the “holy shit” aspect of that car ride, I remember thinking about Christmas 1986, and how there was just something different about this guy and this band, right from the start. I loved lots of Rock and Roll before that moment, but that day was it, the gate. Not just the gate into my obsession with Springsteen, but into my consciousness of the real power and honesty of music. Honestly, it was one of the most important days of my life; it was the day I “got it”.
Sitting here now Bruce’s music makes up much of the soundtrack of my life and I have been lucky enough to see The E Street Band 12 times; with my Dad, with the best of my friends and even alone. Some of the most amazing nights of my life and a large part of my musical consciousness, owed to my Mom’s thoughtful, unexpected and gutsy Christmas gift of 1986.