It was the summer of 1998 and I was back home from college. One of my good friends, Phil, was back as well from the Army. This already starts off sounding like a Springsteen song. We had a Marine friend, Ian, who lived up in Sacramento about two hours north of us. Ian said he wanted to throw Phil a welcome home party but it was more of an excuse to get all the high school buddies together.
Phil had driven across the country with his then-girlfriend Jamie in a Pontiac Grand Prix. I shit you not. Jamie was a nice enough girl, a blue-eyed blonde who grew up in Lynchburg, VA. She even came to visit me in college after they broke up. That is not what it sounds like. But she was a nice enough girl to let me sit in the front seat as we drove up so Phil and I could catch up. That, or she was probably tired of talking to Phil. He’s not exactly a conversationalist unless he’s arguing about something. That being said, half an hour into the drive we were basically done catching up. Keep in mind, we had already been hanging out at his younger brother’s apartment for a few days.
Twenty minutes later I realized that although I like Pink Floyd I cannot be in a car where Pink Floyd is playing repeatedly. It makes me want to fall asleep.
“Can I change the music?” I asked.
“Sure,” Phil said.
Jamie handed me Phil’s CD booklet and as I skimmed through it I slowly got annoyed. Every damn CD was Pink Floyd.
“Phil, what the hell?”
“Dude, Pink Floyd is awesome.”
“Do you have anything else in here?”
Jamie said, “I think my Springsteen CD is in the glove box.”
“That’ll do,” I said.
At the time, the only Springsteen songs I could pick out of a lineup were Glory Days and Born in the U.S.A., but I just couldn’t stand Pink Floyd any longer, so I took the CD out of the glove box and did a once over. There was a picture of Bruce’s Fender Esquire on his back. It reminded me of some old Bon Jovi song, but this was before I would have made the New Jersey connection with those guys.
I popped in the CD and “Born to Run” raced out the speakers and I knew at least I wouldn’t fall asleep. It was nice that it was quiet enough in the car where I could focus, because when the piano and harmonica from “Thunder Road” came on I was hooked, and then I fell in love with Mary. In my head, I still see a dilapidated house with chipping paint and a girl in a white sundress skipping across the porch.
I got “Greatest Hits” a few days later and by the next summer had accumulated all of Bruce’s studio discography. The bootlegs and tribute albums are for another story.