Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
On a typically hot humid Long Island summer day in July 1980, I was sitting in a wonderfully cool air conditioned movie theatre waiting with bated breath for a movie to start. There were only two other people in the multiplex that day-a young couple a few rows behind me. The film we were all there to see was the “No Nukes” documentary from the concerts held at Madison Square Garden in September 1979. I will not bore you with the details as to why I was not allowed to go to see one of the shows in person with three of my cousins (hint-they were boys and I was not, as my father sternly reminded me) but suffice it to say I had been waiting close to a year for this moment.
I sat through nearly every other performance and enjoyed many of them (Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor, The Doobie Brothers) but I was desperate to see the love of my life, Bruce Springsteen. Finally a picture of the marque with his name came on the screen and suddenly there he was backstage. First he was with Jackson Browne then with The E Street Band walking to the stage for their performance as the crowd cheered “Bruce!”. In the next scene the band was in front of the audience and then that beautiful man, Springsteen himself, walked up to the microphone. And the camera stayed on him and that microphone for the entire song. Swoon.
“This is new. It’s about my brother-in-law and sister”, he told the crowd. Then he started playing the harmonica until he introduced us to the characters in the first verse.
“I come from down in the valley where mister when you’re young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school when she was just seventeen
We’d drive out of this valley down to where the fields were green“.
“We’d go down to the river and into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride“.
The guy sitting with his girlfriend a couple of rows behind me shouted “turn it up!” and the volume increased as The Boss continued telling us the true story of the couple in the song.
“Then I got Mary pregnant and man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle, no flowers no wedding dress“.
“We went down to the river and into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride…“.
More consequences followed as the couples’ downward spiral continued.
“I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been no work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important, well mister they vanished right into the air
I just act like I don’t remember, Mary acts like she don’t care“.
Then a memory of better days………and how quickly they ended.
“But I remember us riding in my brother’s car, her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake and pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now them memories come back to haunt me, they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse“.
“That sends me down to the river, though I know the river is dry
Oh down to the river tonight
Down to the river, my baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride…“.
Tears were rolling down my face as the last line from the final verse just played over and over in my head.
“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse“.
What is worse than a dream that does not come true?
I don’t think anyone tells the stories of those haunted by broken dreams better than Springsteen does. The movie concert was the first time I ever saw him sing on a stage and I still remember every second of that performance. Today’s hauntingly beautiful song is the title track from his only double album-which was released 40 years ago today-October 17, 1980. I have written this before and will continue until I take my last breath: Bruce Springsteen’s music saved me like no one else’s. I owe him everything and “it’s a debt no honest man can pay”. Swoon.
Top: A movie still from the “No Nukes” concert film of Bruce Springsteen during his performance of “The River”. Bottom: “The River” album front cover. (Images found online. Original sources unknown.)
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: “The River” (From the 1980 film, “No Nukes”, as performed at the concert of the same name in September 1979. Written by Bruce Springsteen).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.