The following is a reprint of an article from Carol Barbieri which first appeared in the AHHerald on July 23, 2003:
“Funny, thought I felt a sweet summer breeze
Musta been you sighin' so deep
Don't worry we're gonna find a way
I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin' on a sunny day
Without you I'm workin' with the rain fallin' down
Half a party in a one dog town
I need you to chase the blues away”
There are moments in your life that you never forget. Half a century could go by, and you still remember that moment as if it had happened only a minute ago. One of those moments, for me, was the first time I heard a Bruce Springsteen song come on the radio, nearly thirty years ago.
I was on my way to work, in rush hour traffic. It was early fall. It was raining like it would never stop. I was working for Blue Shield of New Jersey in Newark, at a job I hated. I was wearing a suit when I wanted to be wearing jeans. My stockings were sticking to the seat. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t want to be in that car and I didn’t want to be going to that office job. I felt trapped in that car. I felt trapped in that job. I was going to feel trapped in that office for the rest of the day. I was running late. I was nineteen years old. I was dreaming of being a writer.
Then, I heard his voice. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember if the song I heard that day was “Born to Run,” or “Thunder Road.” All I know is that, I had never heard a voice quite like that. There was something about it that was different - different in the kind of way that made me certain I would recognize that voice anywhere, even if I hadn’t heard it again for another ten years.
There was something about his music that was different, too. Something that, to this day, I simply can’t put my finger on. Something that no one else has been able to imitate, duplicate or care to emulate.
I still don’t know what it was about that guy who was singing his heart out through my radio that day. All I know is that, two verses and one chorus later, I stopped thinking about the rain. Before the song was over, all I wanted to do was turn my car around, go home, call work, and tell my boss that I wasn’t coming back (ever). I wanted to buy a motorcycle, head out on the road, and face the future without fear, without a map, and without a dime in my pocket, confident that I would get wherever the hell it was that I wanted to go. And there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I could do it. Powerful. That’s the way Bruce Springsteen made me feel that day.
But I went to work. And I was more outraged than ever that I had to be there. God! That man had gotten under my skin! And, in a way, he’s been there ever since. To this day, every time I hear a Bruce Springsteen song, I feel as though there isn’t a thing in the world that he can’t fix, and therefore, that I can’t fix. And maybe that’s his appeal. There’s a strength about him that flows out of him and right into my bloodstream. It feels good. It’s downright healing.
Up until last Friday night at Giants Stadium, I hadn’t ever seen Bruce Springsteen “live,” unless you count the time I saw him in a restaurant near Atlantic Highlands, where my husband and I were having dinner one night. My back was turned to him when my husband (somewhat of a practical joker) said, “Bruce Springsteen is standing right behind you.”
“Yeah, right.” Ha, ha. People all over the world would sacrifice life and limb for a chance to meet Bruce Springsteen and he was only a few feet away from me?
Well, he was. It’s a good thing my mouth was full, or I would have screamed. By the time I had swallowed, Bruce had run back to his table to retrieve his wallet and was out the door. Gone. I could have run after him, but, I figured he had enough crazy women running after him already. So, I did the same thing I did when I was standing in a salad bar line once, in front of Clarence Clemmons: nothing.
It seemed fitting that, since it was raining the first time I heard Bruce Springsteen on the radio, it would be raining the first time I saw him in concert last Friday night, too. It was a stormy, soaking, soggy rain. My hair was tangled, my mascara was missing, my clothes were plastered to my body, and my sandals were squishy. I could have started my own “Wet T-shirt Contest.” And, you know what? I didn’t care.
The first song Bruce sang was, “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” the old Credence Clearwater Revival tune. Six songs and a good hour later, no one had stopped the rain. But, like that day in my car, I had stopped thinking about it.
Then a strange thing happened. Bruce sang, “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.” The song had barely ended, when I noticed that it had stopped raining. The rain simply ceased.
Now, there are those who will say that Bruce has got some kind of power and they will swear on a stack of Bibles that it’s true. I imagine that Bruce would be too humble to admit he had that kind of power, even if he did.
The thing is, Bruce does have a kind of power to stop the rain. Wherever he goes, when he’s playing, you won’t care if it’s raining. And if it’s only raining in your heart, he can stop that rain, too.
Yes, he’s talented. Yes, he’s got a great band. Yes, he can still slide across the stage as if he’s got wheels on his knees. Yes, he’s up on stage for over three hours. But he’s more than that.
Bruce Springsteen has become almost synonymous with the American Spirit. That “never give up,” “never give in,” “never give less than you can,” and “never give away what you can’t ever get back” attitude of his inspires us and is precisely why we need him. He gives us hope that, even if we’re “waitin’ on a sunny day,” at least it won’t be for long.