April 28, 2009


It was the late ‘70s and Bruce Springsteen was dangerously wild while I was still a tender ingenue. I liked his music if distrusting his euphoric swings, and just when I began to trust the extremes he seemingly jettisoned them, seeking the steadiness of marriage in ’85.

Springsteen divorced around ’89, just when I’d begun thinking positively about domesticity. In his ‘88 song "One Step Up”, he was writing about the handwriting on the wall: “Bird on a wire outside my motel room / But he ain't singin' / Girl in white outside a church in June / But the church bells they ain't ringing.”

Certainly not what I wanted to hear at the time since I was becoming receptive to that “girl in white outside a church in June”. The one rock star I’d respected proved to have feel of clay.

The biggest shock was perhaps Tunnel of Love which included the none-too-cryptic lyrics:
It ought to be easy ought to be simple enough
Man meets woman and they fall in love
But the house is haunted and the ride gets rough
And you've got to learn to live with what you cant rise above if you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love
The song must've had an impact for how familiar and iconic the images of that music video look to this day:
Surely the easiest way to discourage a bachelor is for a married man with all the options in the world to say that love "ought to be simple enough". It was like a rich man admitting he couldn't pay his bills - what hope was there for the rest of us? (Shades of the apostles' query and accompanying answer "with God all things are possible.")

The divorce was a pivotal moment, the moment I realized the Boss didn’t have all the answers (and perhaps this is what Elvis' death did for Bruce?).

It’s sort of funny that that Springsteen, who’d met a million girls and could have his pick, picked the wrong girl. But consoling in a way to those who wouldn't have his choice in women. You’d think if anyone had the odds in his favor it’d be him. Julianne Philips seemed the sort of the uptown girl that Billy Joel sang about, but Bruce was a downtown guy as was Joel.

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