In addition to the mosaic of fan adoration, culled from more than 2,000 submitted video clips, the movie features concert footage that spans four decades. The experience elicited the usual chants of “Bruuuuce,” along with other signs of concert-going endearment from the Clifton Commons audience, but there was more to the experience than entertainment. Springsteen’s artistry is that his deeply moving music is simultaneously universally relatable and highly personal. He is both a New Jersey cultural ambassador and a global homeboy.
While some rock stars cultivate a position of untouchable, God-like status, the 20 Grammy Award®-winning musician literally walks amongst his fans. For many in Baristaville, particularly those of Bruce’s generation, part of the magic is that we have our own personal histories with Springsteen. Perhaps we saw him perform in a little club DTS back in the early 70’s. Maybe we ran into him last week shopping in Red Bank, or caught him showing up for an unexpected performance in Asbury Park. Through his music, Springsteen has poignantly been present at pivotal moments in our lives and offered guidance and comfort when we’ve needed it.
For longtime fan and Glen Ridge resident Karen Eisen, hearing Bruce singing “My Hometown” on the radio served as a homing beacon and prompted a move back to the northeast. Straight out of law school, Eisen was agonizing about the decision to accept a good job in Miami or head home. At an impasse, she was going to flip a coin and leave it to chance. Just at that moment, the song came on and she knew where she belonged. “Bruce helped me decide,” she told Baristanet. “It worked out well for me. I have the love and life I do, because Bruce sent me a sign.”
For another Glen Ridge resident (who chooses to remain anonymous), her lifelong appreciation for Bruce’s music took on new meaning in 2002, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, Springsteen was on national tour to promote The Rising, which culminated with a 10-show run at Giants Stadium. “I was able to see a show during each phase of my treatment, and it really helped give me something to look forward to while I was dealing with everything else,” she recalls. “I saw 2 shows after my diagnosis and before my treatment started. I went to Albany in the winter and saw a show when I was taking the really toxic chemo. I went to Atlantic Spring when I was on the milder chemo, and I managed to get to every Giants Stadium show over the summer, as my treatments were over and I began to heal.” The Jersey native also achieved her goal to see 60 Springsteen concerts by her 60th birthday (she’s already on #65, way ahead of schedule).
Janet Dobbs from Glen Ridge recalls seeing Springsteen for the first time in Philadelphia when she was 18 years old, the night after John Lennon was killed. Instead of canceling the show, Bruce played “Twist and Shout” as a tribute to the fallen Beatle. Lyndhurst resident Pamela Martorana, who was at the movie last night, has attended every show in the NY metro area with her four best Jersey City high school friends since they were 16. They’ve been to more than 80 so far.
Do you have an opinion about Springsteen? We know you do… The producers of Springsteen & I asked fans to describe Bruce in 3 words. Tell us which words sum up your feelings and share your own personal stories in comments.