For Paul V. Thank you. No Retreat/No Surrender. Long before I understood what it means to be alive, I felt isolated on leafy streets. At the bus stop in the morning, I would stand there calmly: observant and quiet: a kid with nothing to prove lest someone want to start some shit. I was afraid of most people. I was afraid of other boys because many of them seemed to have a violence about them. And with girls, I could see myself in their liquid eyes. The vibrations of their utter disinterest rolled up through me like trash trucks moving slow down the road on a snowy morning. I didn’t need to see them to know they were out there. And they didn’t need to see me to not care I was up there, waking up, teenage morning wood.
This one put a tear in my eye. Truly. I remember my discovering Bruce back in ‘75. “Born To Run” was a minor AM radio hit and it’s differentness struck me. Not the glam stuff which I so adored (and really that was just an update of the British Invasion sound which was where I fell in love with music), or the disco stuff which was almost the only think you heard on AM radio in those years, but something that was somehow both newer and older. The Spector thing. The east coast girl group grit. And I was fucking primed for it. The romanticism. The idea of your life, everyday life, as dramatic as a Scorsese film. He spoke about kids in a way that felt new/sincere/lived-in. Honest. I was a true believer. Snapped up BTR and the back catalogue (such as it was) and by senior year (when DARKNESS was released) it became the soundtrack of my life. The music guided me and let me know it was alright not to be like everybody else (even if the characters were just regular folk). DARKNESS landed hard because, unlike BTR and TWTIATESS (still my fav Bruce album) it felt rooted in suburbia, whereas the two more recent albums felt more NYC-based. And I was a suburban kid. I was an acolyte. His lyrics were street poetry. An overused simile, but nevertheless accurate. He sang about shit I knew, that I was living through. A good friend got his girlfriend pregnant and lived “The River”. One summer I spent working factory jobs. I was lost at 18/19/20, hell, longer. I’m still searching.
I’m not such an acolyte these days. I still dig (most of) the newer music, but the gilt has washed off a bit. I see where my teenaged/early 20’s Brucemania came from with a knowing smile. But it’s all good.
And I have my lonely/troubled nights. Still. Tried that phony nightmare bit with my wife a few times earlier in our marriage with much the same results as you got. I dunno. Life takes over. It’s what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. Perhaps Lennon’s most profound lyric.
But this I do know, as a lyricist you, my friend, far surpassed the man who influenced you. Some reviewer (was it Hornsby?) stated the same in a piece on “20,000 Streets” and I thought, “yeah, well, we’ll see about that”; Bruce’s lyrical style is easily imitated (just ask John Cafferty, or fellow New Jersian Jon Bon Jovi). But you (and unless I’m mistaken, I’m would ascribe much of Marah’s lyrics to your pen), went straight to the blood and bone. Whereas Bruce gave us this romanticized image of the truth, you simply gave us the hard truth. Real. Harsh. Beautiful. You’re heard, my man.
I was 15 it was 1975 and on a small pocket radio ‘Born to Run’ came blasting out and everything changed………I couldn’t get enough and putting every penny together got the album……The first time I put it on and heard ‘Thunder Road’ it was game over,now here I am nearly 63 and still burning down that road,Bruce & The E Street have been there in every moment that matters…In May they will play 3 nights in Dublin thankfully I have got tickets for one night but it really is tough to miss two…….this will probably be the last time I get this buzz this high from what is the greatest live band to hit any stage and that is heart breaking but I still wouldn’t change any part of the journey since that night in 75…….very very few bands have ever come close to the power,the energy,the soul,the beauty the sheer joy of life and the poetry of living as Bruce……….you my friend and your brother have been one of the very very few with that raw edge and power that could move me in the same way and if you realise it or not with the might of Marah you understood and produced nights of magic that even Bruce would have been proud of………
I read that in a frenzy. I few parts I read out loud. So relatable. So beautiful. I would like make a post of a few paragraphs, giving you full credit. Some of my friends will dig this. Thanks Serge.
Donruss Diamond Kings brought this one home for me.