July 1988 was when it began. We crawled up the hill to the car park, my mother and father and my younger brother in a long line of traffic, all with the same destination: Brammall Lane, Sheffield, England. We had tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in concert.
In all honesty, my brother and I were reluctant companions. My parents were the Springsteen fans, and given the distance from where we lived to the concert venue, they were left with little choice than to drag us along too.
It was my first Springsteen concert and I was fifteen years young. Springsteen was for the older folk, and not a teenage girl listening avidly to Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys.
As the first note of Tunnel of Love boomed out from the giant stage I was a convert. I was hooked. And I have been ever since. Thirty years long and counting.
I have never seen anyone work so hard on a stage as Springsteen does.
I remember vividly watching Amnesty International’s Human Rights Now! tour concert on TV with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour. The concerts celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights left a lasting impression on my teenage self. There were people in the world who didn’t have it as easy as me. There were people who didn’t live in freedom, who didn’t get to enjoy their human rights.
The power of music.
Yes, when a venue erupts to Bruce Springsteen thundering out the Born to Run lyrics you know you are alive.
And yes, when Springsteen is telling his story, you are captivated.
But Springsteen is not afraid to go beyond music and tackle topics laden in stigma, or get involved in controversial discussions.
“…. I’m the President but he’s the boss.” Barack Obama
But let’s get back to basics. Springsteen’s music is where my love affair started. And that music has provided the soundtrack to the years as I have aged.
One of the readings at my wedding was the lyrics to “Should I Fall Behind” and those words remind me through the bumps that marriage is not always a smooth road.
Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
And I’ll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me
It turns out that there are gifts you can wrap and put under the Christmas tree. And there are gifts you don’t get to wrap, gifts you don’t even know you are giving. Ones you cannot buy in a store. Ones that last a lifetime.
That is the kind of gift my parents gave me on a summer evening in 1988 in a former mining town in the north of England.
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Photo by Lars van Mulligen