Black Leather Jacket and Motorcycle Boots song
Bruce Springsteen opened the book tour for his new autobiography, Born to Run, with a meet-and-greet in Freehold, New Jersey, the singer’s hometown, on Tuesday.
A Barnes and Noble parking lot in the central Jersey town off Highway 9 (yes, the one from the songs) was temporarily transformed into something closer to a concert queue. Metal barriers corralled admirers, wristbands were handed out, fans ranging from children to the elderly waited in line, and a family atmosphere prevailed.
“I left Long Island at 5.30am this morning, ” said Marci Goldfarb, a 53-year-old mother of three sons. “I have been to over 100 shows. I met him in Stockholm, ” she said, adding she was first in line for that show.
On her 28th wedding anniversary, she and her husband danced onstage to the Bruce ballad I Wanna Marry You on stage as the singer looked on. She carried a folded and worn 8-by-11in photo to prove it. “As much joy as he feels playing, which is enormous from the book, we get from him playing.”
She and two friends, who had also stood in line for hours, said in unison that Springsteen shows were a “religious experience”.
“Like being in a cathedral, ” said Todd Kauffman, 52, who drove from Maryland, and shares his love of Springsteen with his 17-year-old daughter.
Indeed, Springsteen’s interactions with fans inside Freehold’s Barnes and Noble recalled a papal visit. No visit lasted longer than about 10 seconds, and most were significantly shorter. More than one woman gave him a big kiss on the cheek, through which he smiled. Men gave him hardy handshakes and hugs. Fans, well, just wanted to touch him. Many welled up afterward.
Each fan received a copy of Springsteen’s new book, pre-signed, anticipation of which was heightened earlier this month when the singer revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair that he had struggled with depression.
“I would wait for a week” to meet Springsteen, Kim Rapella, 45, said. “This is the only item on the bucket list.”
Springsteen is known for playing four-hour shows filled with crowd-pleasing hits, and his fans, especially those lining up in the parking lot on Tuesday, are fiercely loyal. People started listening in “’72” or in “’80”, they said. Some might have been only 10 years old when they went to their first show, thanks to a cooler older sibling. Younger fans celebrated weddings with Springsteen songs.
Susan Hogan, 63, said her son’s recent wedding had included a tribute to the singer. “They’re all Jersey boys, and we all lined up and went, ‘Tramps like us!’” she said, quoting a lyric from Born to Run, the 1975 single after which he named his new book.
Springsteen appears to reciprocate that love, having showed up more than hour early to the event.
He did not take questions from the media, and sweaty assistants shoved reporters and video journalists out the door soon after the event started. Springsteen remained, hugging fans in a black leather jacket, jeans, and motorcycle boots.
All the excitement in the parking lot and corporate book store made it easy to forget that Springsteen’s status as a major American phenomenon comes with an attendant security apparatus.
At least eight Freehold police officers patrolled the area, and officers estimated there were at least 15 black-suited private security guards patrolling the front door and exits of the bookstore. An army of media representatives, from Barnes and Noble and Bruce’s entourage, scurried in and out of the front door. At one point police threatened to arrest the Guardian for lingering too long.
Still, there was little that could dampen the joy of fans who had flown in from Israel and Alabama, driven from DC or the middle of Long Island in the dark, or who had planned a vacation around the experience.