Born To Run, overblown, overwrought, overly dramatic, glorious, all these are true of the album that began my love affair with an ideal.
I remember sitting on the floor of Nigel’s floor listening to the album. He was trying to convince me Springsteen was as important as Dylan. At the time I didn’t care as I was more worried about trying to convince him to sell me his Dads flying jacket so I could get that look Julian Cope had on the video to Reward with the Teardrop Explodes. I also didn’t really get Dylan at the time and wouldn’t until I heard Live at Budokan of all albums.
I nodded along to all the songs looking studious and wishing we could play Dark Side of the Moon again and wondering how to bring up the subject of that jacket. I could appreciate the idea of the boys trying to impress the girls through feats of daring but all this car love was too much. I was 15 and driving was long way off and would likely be a beat up Ford Escort not some glamorous American vehicle with chrome and other shiny bits.
There was a moment in Jungleland however that sounded so exotic, barefoot girls, warm beer and the difference between flesh and fantasy. At that moment I new I was going to come visit the land this music was made in. For a working class boy from Liverpool in the 80’s that was perhaps an unattainable ambition. But that image of a barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge stuck. Now there were many barefoot girls in Liverpool, one memorable one used to dance in an army surplus jacket that was adorned with many a patch from the bands of the day, shaking her auburn curls to the beat. Of course at 15 speaking to her was as unthinkable as jumping ship to the States.
Thirteen years later I looked at a beautiful barefoot blonde sitting on the hood of our rusty Chevette laughing, and speaking to me in that soft North West accent. It wasn’t a Dodge and there was no knife fight but there had been warm beer and the sun was shining on the sand in Southport, not the street lights reflecting on the streets of New Jersey. At that moment I knew that this was the woman I would spend my life with.
Our car had failed again trying to pull off the sand and we had laughed as we begged for help pushing the piece of junk off the beach. No chrome and no fast cars as we drove away but Springsteen stretching out on the cassette deck of the car as we drove home and made plans.
I never got the jacket, even though I asked. Once I figured Dylan out I realized that Springsteen was not the new Dylan. I did visit the USA and fell in love with the wide spaces and I got the girl and realized I would never be completely happy in Liverpool again. This week as we pulled away from our old house I played Born To Run as it seems we have as we left just about every one of the 16 previous houses since we left the one in Liverpool on the way to the USA.
It’s been a long and at mostly romantic journey to get were we are now. Springsteen has been part of it as has Dylan and numerous other bands and songwriters. There have also been many days sitting barefoot on the back of 4-Runner’s, Jeeps and one Dodge pick up over the years. So that Dodge thing did sort of happen, more fish guts and mud than chrome and speed though.
Moving always makes me reflective. It is the act of sorting and discarding and leaving behind, only keeping the precious and meaningful. The thoughts of the past and the expectation of the future. This move has taken longer than most, just about 3 months as the banks sorted themselves out, luckily the buyer stuck around for the whole period. It must have been odd for him as well waiting a quarter of a year to buy the house he wanted. Anyway it’s all done now, the records are moved in and the books on the shelf and the dog has found his place to sleep in front of the fire and we can now sit back and relax before the next adventure.
That barefoot girl is now researching doctoral programs so who knows where we go next.