The Story of the Boss

One of rock’s greatest storytellers tells his greatest story. His own.

I was a big fan of the Boss when I was younger. I had the cassettes of Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town and wore them out on my middle school tape player. I saw him in concert on both the Born in the USA and Tunnel of Love tours. But I hadn’t paid any attention to Bruce Springsteen in the last 15 years. I knew he wrote a well-received book and performed on Broadway, but I knew nothing about his musical output.

He tells his story in the memoir Born to Run through the creation of music – in shabby rehearsal spaces, beer-soaked music clubs and a variety of historically important recording studios – but it’s really the story about how one kid beats the odds of his dysfunctional family and abject poverty through his raw ambition to become the biggest rock star in the world. He admits that at the heart of that one in a million chance, there is indeed one. The writing is lyrical (of course), insightful and heartfelt and shows that his success never would have happened without the ups and downs of relationships, family and lifelong friendships.

Too Heavy for Comfort

When I was about 12 years old I got stuck in an elevator in a NYC office building. On our trip to New York I told Deborah about this story. Karma interrupted our trip and trapped us in an elevator.

We were heading to a Broadway show that had emailed us twice not to be late or we would not be seated. We left early. On the way down, the elevator stopped at the fourth floor – the lounge floor. Seven Latina women got on with the two of us, but that made the elevator overweight. A buzzer started going off until one of women exited.

The door closed and the elevator went down. Apparently the buzzer went off too many times and the elevator’s control system malfunctioned. The elevator seemed to stop at the first floor, but the doors did not open. We stood for a few minutes waiting for the doors to open. They didn’t. We pressed all of the emergency buttons on the elevator until someone responded.

One of the Latina women was on the verge of a panic attack. They all seemed to speak English, but Spanish was their primary language. Deborah broke the tension at one point by saying the Our Father prayer in Spanish. I never did ask her how an Irish Catholic from Tennessee with a Lebanese mom knew this prayer in Spanish.

Deborah called the front desk to get an update as the clock was ticking towards our show start time. I was getting anxious about that, not our safety. After about 15 minutes the doors opened and we rushed through the Times Square crowd to our show.