When I hear of Asbury Park I immediately think of Bruce Springsteen. Maybe it’s because I remember every summer my dad listening to “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J” on the porch CD player while my sisters and I would ride our bikes through the backyard grass. Now that I think about it, it was the same repetitive and boring path which I think still to this day has basically left bicycle tire tracks embedded into the earth. If nothing else, my sisters and I at least gave my dad one spot where he doesn’t have to worry about cutting the grass because it’ll most likely never grow back. But it never got old, because we were young. I remember being able to recite and sing the lyrics to “blinded by the light” by the youthful age of six and without even having the slightest idea what it meant, thinking that Springsteen was talking about me when singing, “Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat.”
A few days ago I visited Asbury Park with friends and it was hard to miss the local natives pride in the singer. Every restaurant, gift shop, and bar had dedicated some part of their business towards the singer, whether it was a highly overpriced mixed drink, sandwich, or keychain.
Sitting at a bar with friends made me wonder how many suckers now come to the heavily populated tourist area and buy this stuff. The amount of young girls ordering a Born to Run cocktail just to post on Instagram a picture with themselves holding a drink with a caption of an overused song lyric. I can’t count the number of college guys who I saw all wearing the same sort of t-shirt with a listing of Springsteen’s tour dates from a specific year. The only thing that made each one original is that they all cut off their sleeves differently to turn the shirts into muscle tees. I bet my college education that if approached randomly 93% of these people if asked wouldn’t be able to name even six songs by the singer. I’m not the biggest fan myself of Springsteen. If I were asked, I would have to say Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is probably the album of my childhood and I would pick Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits over Springsteen without a doubt every time. But I also can’t help to think that maybe they have a memory as deeply rooted in one of Springsteen’s songs as I do. A bit of summer nostalgia, or maybe hearing it as a hand-me-down CD from their parents as they drove their car to high school every morning, or at the very least, just a one liner that so accurately describes their situation that it resonates with them. I know I do.
Sitting in a bar fifteen years later hearing the same lyrics that I thought were meant for me all those years ago gave me goosebumps. And like the bike track, every time I hear a song from the album I have an embedded yearning path to be six again.