Since it was just St. Patty’s Day, and I have about as much Irish in my blood as Zaphod Beeblebrox, let’s talk about Bruce Springsteen.
(Sure, he’s Irish; Wikipedia says so.)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who wishes to survive long within the boundaries of New Jersey will demonstrate early and often their abiding love of Bruce Springsteen. America has taken him to her bosom, but he started, as the kids here are taught in kindergarten, playing at the Shore.
The majority of people over 30 spent their childhoods at the various points of said shore, listening to “Born to Run,” “Born in the USA” etc, and are passing on this fine tradition to their children. Glory Days were these guys’ glory days, and if you so much as murmur the words “John Mellencamp,” you will be summarily dismembered. In fact, I think most people believe a questionnaire including your opinion of Bruce should be issued at Newark airport; any rating less than 4 out of 5, and you have to go home.
Growing up in my own Duran Duran-saturated dream in the 1980s, my friends and I enjoyed Bruce’s songs but never bothered to pay any attention to the words. Apparently Ronald Reagan didn’t either. Yeah, yeah, American propaganda, woohoo. You could have knocked me down with the proverbial when I actually read the lyrics. So much music written with a message loses all creativity and soul, but not Mr. Springsteen’s. I can’t really listen to his songs now without running for azlyrics.com to make sure I catch everything he’s saying. So may the road always rise to meet you, me fine fella, etc. etc., and I promise to pay attention from now on.
Like Bruce, perhaps on a lesser scale but perhaps more important to younger Jerseyites, is Bon Jovi. Nobody seems to have noticed that the songs from Bon Jovi’s “comeback” sound exactly like their songs from the 80s, but I don’t begrudge them that. When the rest of the country is bombarded with reality shows featuring so-called “New Jersey natives” who aren’t actually from New Jersey, it’s nice to point to these, as we would say in the old country, sound blokes, who can redress the balance a little.
Kimberley Ash is a British ex-pat who has lived in and loved New Jersey for twenty years. When not writing romance, she can usually be found cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs and slightly less furry children. Her first novel, Breathe, is now available from Crimson Romance.