Intro to Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, family, music, dealing with loss, Modern PhilosopherIt’s my stepbrother’s fault that I love Bruce Springsteen, Modern Philosophers.

Because of the ten year age difference, Chip was in high school and I was in first grade when our parents decided to Brady Bunch us into one big happy family.

I was a nerdy bookworm with absolutely no knowledge of music.  He was a popular high school jock who had a stereo in his room.

The first part of my music education began when I was half asleep.  Chip would wake me up at night by asking:

What’s the greatest band in all the land?

Apparently, the answer was “The Grateful Dead“, which I never understood because he didn’t seem to like them much.  While I never took a shine to the band, I did wear a Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead tie to my wedding.

The follow up question was always: “Who’s the Boss?

That one was much more obvious.  Bruce Springsteen, of course.

The second part of my music education was a total immersion in Springsteen’s The River after Chip scored tickets to a concert on that tour.  In order to prepare for seeing Bruce live, he would play The River constantly on the crappy little record player he’d set up on the window sill in the kitchen.

Bruce Springsteen, family, music, dealing with loss, Modern PhilosopherAs Chip learned the words to every song on the album, so did I.  Of course, this led to my wanting to listen to more Springsteen.

Born To Run opened my mind to how badly a nerdy kid like me needed a little rock and roll in his life on a daily basis.

That album is packed with classics.

Thunder Road, the opening track, is still my all-time favorite Springsteen song.

And Chip made sure I always had access to The Boss’ music.  Every Christmas, I’d wear out the recording of Springsteen’s Santa Claus Is Coming To Town that he made for me.

The first cassette that I ever bought was Born in the USA.  I can still remember how excited I was to walk out to 86th Street with my hard earned cash in my pocket to make that purchase.

And when I got home, I sat in the room that I’d inherited from Chip when he went off to college, and listened to that tape over and over on the stereo he’d left behind.

That summer, when the Born in the USA tour was rolling through New York, I tried to win tickets on the radio.  I never did get a ticket, but I would listen every night to the local station as it broadcasted live from outside Giants Stadium during the shows.  Every once in a while, they’d play a snippet of a song from the concert.

Bruce Springsteen, family, music, dealing with loss, Modern PhilosopherI made a vow that I would some day see The Boss live.  Eventually, I caught him at Madison Square Garden as part of the Tunnel of Love tour.  Greatest concert I’ve ever attended.

I prepared for that evening by listening to the album over and over again, just like Chip had taught me during The River tour.

To this day, whenever a Springsteen song comes on the radio, I crank it up and sing along.  Poorly, but passionately.

I’m not very close to my family anymore, and haven’t seen or spoken to Chip in probably twenty years.  Life is like that.  He moved to Virginia.  I headed out to California and then came back across the country to settle in at The House on the Hill.

Yesterday, my sister called me at work to tell me that Chip had passed away in his sleep.

The shock of it caused me to break down and cry in the hallway.  I went into my friend’s office, grabbed a few tissues off her desk, and told her what had happened as I wiped away the tears.

For the rest of the day, random Springsteen songs would pop into my head as I tried to process the fact that Chip was no longer with us.

I wanted to end this post with a video of The Boss in concert, and I’ve chosen my favorite song from The River.  I think the title is fitting given that even though we were estranged, there was always a bond that tied us together.

That tie was Bruce Springsteen.  Rest in Peace, Chip.  Make sure to wake up the angels every night to quiz them about who’s The Boss…

Don’t forget to follow me on my blog and on Pinterest…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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45 Responses to Intro to Springsteen

  1. My condolences about your stepbrother. Everything else in this post made this Jersey boy smile ear to ear.

  2. cbiz50 says:

    Your stepbrother gave you the gift of the Boss. Can’t beat that. A beautiful tribute.

  3. Louise says:

    Austin i feel sad for your loss. Estranged such an ugly word, but you do have terrific memories of the boss…and he is still going cos i saw him recently here in australia. And the concert went for just over 3 hours he started early, and did not seem to want to finish…so you play his music long and loud cos chip is still listening.x

  4. Louise says:

    Hope you play some at the memory ceremony for chip

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your stepbrother. But in my house, The Boss is my wife.

  6. My condolences on your brother.

  7. Roisin Black says:

    R.I.P. Chip and I hope you’re rockin’ on in the after-life.

  8. Lutheranliar says:

    Omigod. Totally heart The Boss! I had the bar stool next to his at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in L.A. once. He’s really nice. But short.

  9. robjodiefilogomo says:

    So sorry about your step brother, Austin. But what great memories! We don’t even realize how much music impacts our lives….

  10. sharonduerst says:

    So sorry for your shocking loss of your stepbrother, Austin. What a gift of music he left with you!

  11. Boss. I am going to listen to Springsteen today in honor of Chip…and you.

  12. Silly Mummy says:

    Sorry to hear about your stepbrother. As music to remember someone by goes, however, Springsteen is right up there.

  13. I love the album The River. Brings back memories of me and my girlfriends listening and giggling.
    Lovely tribute ❤

  14. lindahobden says:

    My sincere condolences – but what great memories he left behind though. Lovely tribute 😊

  15. lsgaitan23 says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a great musical legacy your stepbrother left you. I lost my sister about a year and a half ago–just the other day I listened to a Judy Collins album she used to play over and over and cried for an hour. Life, love and loss, but music remains.

  16. Jennifer says:

    I am so sorry Austin. This is a beautiful tribute to a meaningful memory that you shared with your brother—there is no “step” when you have a bond like this.

  17. Trudy says:

    I’m sorry for your sudden loss.

  18. Mandi says:

    So sorry for the loss of your stepbrother but what a wonderful gift he gave you by sharing amazing music. My husband scored some amazing floor level seats to Springsteen years ago and at the last minute I began having pregnancy complications and was unable to go. I hear that he puts on an amazing show!

  19. Tony says:

    Great post. I imagine it will be equally difficult and cathartic to have your step-brother so intrinsically linked to the music you love, but that’s what music does.

  20. Skipah says:

    That was my first album I ever bought also, terribly sorry about your loss. Sounds like he was a big part of your life growing up.

  21. ‘Thunder Road, the opening track, is still my all-time favorite Springsteen song’.
    With you there.

    Had to discover Springsteen myself from across the pond ‘some misty years ago’. So glad I did.

    My condolences on your loss.

  22. klaudia says:

    What a wonderful post in honour of your brother. I am very sorry for your loss, Austin. Life can be a right a## Bruce Springsteen is yet another one of the few great legendary ones, his music will live forever, as your memories will ….

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