Sometimes Music is Life Changing

Shot by Sharon Mollerus Pure Moonlight

Shot by Sharon Mollerus
Pure Moonlight

One of the biggest surprises of my life was growing up and discovering that life was very different than I expected it to be. I didn’t become a professional athlete or find a job that I loved.

Fact is that out of college I went through a bunch of jobs before I started to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my life. Hell, it probably took until I was around forty or so before I really started to get it figured out and even then it wasn’t completely clear to me how or what I needed to be doing.

A Click

One night a few years ago I was listening to a conversation Bruce Springsteen had with the audience right before he started singing The River and something clicked for me.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard that cut or listened to the album.  It easily could have been the hundredth time I heard it, but it was the first time I recognized that I thought of the “speech” he gave as a conversation and it made me think.

Because the reality was that a conversation usually involves more than one party speaking and that didn’t happen there, it was just one person.

But that is not how I responded nor is it how lots of people responded. It is one of those gifts certain people and performers have. They can stand in front of a room and hold the entire place captive.


And that night I started thinking about how I hadn’t really thought of myself as the kind of writer who could make money from telling stories. I hadn’t thought seriously about how maybe I could do that too.

I thought about my favorite books and about how sometimes it felt like I knew the characters or wanted to know them.

And I wondered how Bruce did it and if there was anything that I could take/learn from him. But mostly I thought about working on my writing skills so that one day I could hold a room captive the same way he did.

Not because my ego needs to be stroked in that manner but because I figured if I could do that I could profoundly change my life in a way that I think would be quite fulfilling.

Sometimes Music Is Life Changing

I want to tell you about how I did it and how that night led to the publication of my best selling novel and that I made so much money from it I was able to do everything I dreamed of, but I can’t…yet.

The only thing stopping me from saying it is doing it and that is my challenge to over come.

But the point isn’t whether I have or haven’t done it. The point is the opportunity is there and it is up to me to go for it.

You never know what kinds of surprises, challenges and gifts life will throw at you, but you do have some say in how you respond.

You’ll find a copy of the conversation I referred to and a link to a video just below this sentence.

Hiya doin’ out there tonight? That’s good, that’s good.

This is ah… When I was growing up, me and my dad used to go at it all the time over almost anything. But, ah, I used to have really long hair, way down past my shoulders. I was 17 or 18, oh man, he used to hate it.

And we got to where we’d fight so much that I’d, that I’d spent a lot of time out of the house; and in the summertime it wasn’t so bad, ‘cause it was warm, and my friends were out, but in the winter, I remember standing downtown where it’d get so cold and, when the wind would blow, I had this phone booth I used to stand in.

And I used to call my girl, like, for hours at a time, just talking to her all night long. And finally I’d get my nerve up to go home. I’d stand there in the driveway and he’d be waiting for me in the kitchen and I’d tuck my hair down on my collar and I’d walk in and he’d call me back to sit down with him. And the first thing he’d always ask me was what did I think I was doing with myself. And the worst part of it was that I could never explain to him.

I remember I got in a motorcycle accident once and I was laid up in bed and he had a barber come in and cut my hair and, man, I can remember telling him that I hated him and that I would never ever forget it.

And he used to tell me: “Man, I can’t wait till the army gets you. When the army gets you they’re gonna make a man out of you. They’re gonna cut all that hair off and they’ll make a man out of you.”

And this was, I guess, ’68 when there was a lot of guys from the neighborhood going to Vietnam.

I remember the drummer in my first band coming over to my house with his marine uniform on, saying that he was going and that he didn’t know where it was.

And a lot of guys went, and a lot of guys didn’t come back. And a lot that came back weren’t the same anymore.

I remember the day I got my draft notice. I hid it from my folks and three days before my physical me and my friends went out and we stayed up all night and we got on the bus to go that morning and man we were all so scared…

And I went, and I failed. I came home [audience cheers], it’s nothing to applaud about…

I remember coming home after I’d been gone for three days and walking in the kitchen and my mother and father were sitting there and my dad said: “Where you been?” and I said, uh, “I went to take my physical.” He said “What happened?” I said “They didn’t take me.”

And he said: “That’s good.”
A transcription of Bruce Springsteen’s conversation with the audience on the live version of The River on the Live 1975-1985 box set.  My thanks to Cathal Garvey for his unknowing help with this.

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  1. Karen July 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for that! I wish you success on your journey.


  2. Natalie the Singingfool July 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Life is so different than I expected it to be, too. I like Bruce’s story, as well as yours – they highlight each other.

    • TheJackB July 14, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Natalie the Singingfool Hi Natalie, Bruce does such a good job of making himself feel like a regular guy. I remember when this album set came out, he was so huge and it just caught me.

  3. Kristin Daemon July 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Great picture too 🙂

  4. 50peach July 14, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Wow, that’s a story and a half. Yours and Bruce’s.  Thanks for sharing and best of luck on the book!!

  5. Daniel Nest July 14, 2013 at 3:43 am

    May you have luck with that book, whatever it shall be. Headless motorbike riders? A mutant-zombie love story? The possibilities are virtually endless!

    • TheJackB July 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      Daniel Nest Hi Daniel, how are things in Denmark?
      Headless motorbike gangs take on the mutant Zombie lovers sounds like a good possibility to me. 😉

      • Daniel Nest July 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        TheJackB Denmark’s good. Was kidnapped for my bachelor party on Saturday, was lots of fun. I think you have a potential winner on your hands, sir – looking forward to the Tarantino movie based on your book!

  6. zoebyrd2 July 13, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    What a beautiful story. Parents and kids…enigmas both.

  7. Julie Barrett July 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    If it’s meant to be written, it gets written when it’s time.  What’s for you won’t go past you.

  8. A Sharp July 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Music and the arts have throughout the ages been the perfect outlet in which to vent much angst, to name but one feeling.  From what I know about Bruce, he’s had to deal with a lot.  We get the benefit of his music to help us through those times.  
      Music is absolutely the life in my blood and the beat of my heart.  To me, Life would not be worth living without it.  I realize you’re not referencing the lyrics of any particular songs in this post, but I wanted to mention how sometimes certain lyrics can seem to jump out at us at just the right time and have the power to change our thought process and clarify much for us.  Sometimes only the songwriter knows the true meaning of the words, but however we interpret them, if they and the music stir our souls, then whatever the songwriter was going through at the time was not in vain.

    • TheJackB July 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      @A Sharp I can’t imagine a world without music or art, how dull and colorless it would be.
      Music is of paramount importance, sometimes it is the lyrics and sometimes it is the music and sometimes it is both.

  9. Ken Degner July 13, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I have a favorite author who is also a storyteller. I know those are the same thing, but when I sit and listen to the way that he tells the the story to an audience, that he’s written, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in what he’s saying and be right there. Later, when it’s just me reading one of his books, it’s impossible not to be led where he want’s me to go.
    I don’t have high expectations of ever being some sort of successful writer,  but if I could weave a tale like that, and even in some small way, take somebody by the hand and pull them along with what I’ve written, that would make me happy.

    • TheJackB July 14, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      Ken Degner Hi Ken. I think I understand. Some people can tell a good story with words but not verbally and some can do it the opposite way.
      Not everyone can do both and when they can it is magical.
      I am with you, the opportunity to weave a tale and bring people along would be awesome.

  10. snapsandbits July 13, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Sometimes it’s good not to get chosen.

  11. BetsyKCross July 13, 2013 at 2:53 am

    This post brought up so much emotion for me and yet it seems to be “all over the place.” I don’t know what part to focus on (of the post). LOL!
    Fathers can screw up a kid so fast. Mothers can, too. But we all have to take responsibility for how we move forward, regardless of how anyone treats us. Right?
    Interesting to me that love is often felt underground and expressed fearfully above ground. The relief Bruce must have felt was surprisingly mirrored in his parent’s statement “Good”. Crazy that it takes big things like a possibility for loss to make some people come clean with how they really feel. Isn’t it.
    Now I’M all over the place!
    Write the book! Who knows? You might get a draft notice to something somewhere and lose the freedom to write that you have right now!

    • TheJackB July 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      BetsyKCross Parenting is an adventure, never ending adventure of trying to do right by our children.
      I think a lot of people have trouble expressing their emotions so sometimes it takes something major before you figure out how to say what needs to be said.

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