We all watch that one movie that melts our hearts like hot butter over freshly made popcorn. Our hearts are small pieces of kernels that slowly expand with heat and pressure. When the time is right, the kernel forms into a beautifully shaped piece of popcorn that is full of pleasure that not only tingles our taste buds but sooths our soul. I recently just watched “Blinded by the Light” a true story about a Pakistani teen in 1980 who discovers Bruce Springsteen’s for the first time during extreme hardship. This movie not only filled my heart with emotion for the teen’s struggles, but also for my extreme love for Bruce Springsteen.
The main character, Javed, had experienced a hardship growing up that I will never know or understand, but for him he let Bruce into his heart and allowed the words to fill his body and mind. I would never experience what Javed went through, but that is the beauty of Bruce Springsteen’s music, you can experience it at any time, at any moment and it will fill your heart. I found myself crying (which I don’t cry easily) through the whole movie, but especially at that first moment when he hit play and the words came pouring out like a waterfall of crystal clear water.
I could not breathe or stop from smiling, which is an odd combination. Again, our stories are worlds apart by time, culture and experience, but the underlying truth of it remains, Bruce spoke to us and millions of other people. I don’t particular remember growing up listening to Bruce, but I remember him being on every road trip that my dad and I took through Nebraska and Wyoming for his job. I remember him coming out of hard sales meetings and you could see defeat on his face. He always waited until he got close to the car to remove his coat, loosen up the tie, put the briefcase in the backseat and get into the car. I found that in time, silence was sometimes the better option.
I don’t recall every song or the albums that came from the cassette tapes, but I recall the feeling that he gave my dad. His face changed and became lighter. It was like all of the heaviness of his world melted away and the only thing that remained was the light that remained in front of him on the road ahead. He put that tie on for his family, but the road that lay ahead was for him and him only. That was his Thunder Road. I didn’t discover my true inner Bruce until much later in life and it seemed that one day it came sneaking up on me like a faint light in a tunnel, until one day that faint light gained speed and never stopped.
My family mocks my love for Bruce and in 2019 my dream was to see Freehold, New Jersey (Bruce’s hometown) and to walk on the same streets and to touch the same places that he had touched long ago, however, my trip was cancelled due to unforeseen hardships. I hope that one day soon I will be able to walk on those back streets and to see a glimpse of a young Bruce as the roads pass by. Similar to Javed, I have written since I was a kid and have boxes full of my writings tucked away in a dark lonely storage unit. That storage unit contains my most deep inner thoughts and even though growing up my one true dream was to be a writer I had no idea how to obtain it.
I was never interested in writing for the school newspaper or to cover political subjects, but just wanted to write for me and to hopefully have a few followers that understood my experience. I longed to have my voice heard and similar to the movie, to scream the words out in the street and hope that someone would just understand them and for once fully understand me.
A true love for Bruce Springsteen’s music cannot be taken away or removed from the heart once it has been wrapped around like a piece of crispy bacon to eggs. The two go together, the two belong together, and the two make each other. I might prefer veggie bacon to the real thing, but the two are still the same. My love and appreciation comes from watching my dad’s face change as soon as that tape cassette hit the radio and in time, my face changed. I cannot imagine going through a day without hearing his lyrics pour out of his mouth and into my ears like a volcano to lava. The volcano is explosive and leaves remains visible to any eye.
I don’t know if I have a favorite song, for at times, his songs mean something very different to me but I think for the purpose of this writing, here is a song that played soon after the death of dad. We have always been a tight family of 5 and then one day without notice, we left the hospital as 4. The moments of walking back into a home after leaving a loved one’s body back in the hospital is about one of the hardest pain to endure. You cannot move, see straight and just want to crawl into a corner and forget life.
This song was and still is hard for me to listen to, but also in an odd way brings me comfort, for I remember seeing his newspaper on the table, his coffee mug on the counter and his clothes in the closet. Everything was untouched and exactly where he left everything. His hands were the last to have touched them and he would never touch them again. I know in this time, families are being separated by pain and loss and you have my deepest condolences.