Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

23 July 2013

Bruce Springsteen, the "Everyman" and me

It was 1985 and I was in the 3rd Grade.  A friend of mine invited me to his cottage and I drove north with
his Mom to spend a week with their family on a Friday night.  In her car, she had two cassette tapes and she gave me the option of which one I wanted to listen to.  Both were artists that I'd never heard of but sounded very similar.  One was "Tao" by Rick Springfield.  He seemed like a bit of a strange 80's dude with quiff of black hair and a trench coat on the cover.  The other was by some guy named Bruce Springsteen called, "Born in the USA."  It was just the backside of a guy with faded jeans and a baseball cap in his back pocket.   Seemed more like my kinda guy so I went with SpringSTEEN.

Destiny has a funny way of playing itself out.

She popped it in the tape player and what I heard... was something that I haven't been able to get out of my head for nearly 30 years.  The album begins with the vocally balls-to-the-wall title track tale of neglect, systematically heaped a heroic protagonist living in the shadow of a great dream.  I was only 9, but GOT it.  I came alive a little more that day. When we hit "No Surrender" I related with the guy who "bursted out of class" because he had to "get away from those fools."  He "learned more from a 3 minute record than he ever learned in school."
"That's what is happening to me RIGHT NOW" I thought!

Then came "Glory Days."  To this day it remains at the very top of rock and roll heap for me.  As I've eeked past the hump of my 30's, the sentiment has only germinated in my maturing soul and aging body.  It's kickass AND wistful. Lamenting AND celebratory. It's dirty and real.  Today, a Born in The USA record adorns my office right there with my Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal... and my favorite old bottle of Dr. Pepper. I measure music by Bruce Springsteen and find that most of it just looks like a faded photocopy next to a Renoir by comparison.

I could write reams about why.  But I think the experience I had last night depicts it as good as any.

My wife and I went out for dinner to celebrate her 36th birthday followed by a screening of the new documentary called "Springsteen and I."  We went to a very quiet Thai restaurant.  Uncomfortably kinda quiet.  Seated behind us were two fancied-up socialite girls in their early 20's cackling and caterwauling about the excruciatingly, self-absorbed minutia of their lives.  At one point the lady in red,who had recently moved to New York, blurted, "I was at the hospital today, and those people are idiots!  And then one 'THOSE' scooter people rode up, had to park it, and walked in.  And they had bare feet!  Can you believe that?  Who ARE these people? Unbelievable.  I can't wait to get back to civilization."

Well I wanted to jump out of my chair at her and tell her exactly WHO that person was and about the situations that exist that can lead to such a scenario... likely not in a way that would reflect that well Captain Kindness.  My wife was equally appalled but kept me cool.  We left quickly, as not to create a scene during the birthday date, and went to the movie.

"Springsteen and I" is basically a crowd-sourced film consisting of everyday people telling their "what Bruce Springsteen means to me" stories, interspersed with The Boss's legendary concert footage.  My favorite was a young lady named Kitty Liang, originally from China, who became an American citizen in 2007.  Kitty is now a trucker who told the story about how Springsteen's tales of the everyman had become the soundtrack and encouragement to live her real life with conviction.  I'm paraphrasing, but she said something to this extent:

"There was a time where my job was to get up at 3am, and ride a bike to my job at Jamba Juice to make oatmeal, so people would have oatmeal when they woke up to go to work.  Bruce's stories and songs always made me feel like what I was doing was being the backbone of the country. That the country was built on people like me.  Like it was an important role."

And Kitty is RIGHT.  Societies do run because of those who work damn hard at real jobs responsibly, day in and day out.   These are stories are not often not told.... and rarely honored.   Bruce tells those stories... and esteems those who live them.  And there is not a performer who does it more genuinely, with more passion than him.  At 63, his shows still last three and a half hours and you feel like you've BEEN somewhere together at it's conclusion.

I believe that WORK... IS worship when its done as unto the Lord. I don't find there to much of a differentiation between the sacred and the secular... if any.   When you're doing your JOB each day with all you have, it's pleasing to God and that makes it sacred. But it's even more than that.  One of my ministry role models is Ed Silvoso. It's been his life's work to see genuine holistic transformation in cities. He has a few (what he calls) "Pivotal Paradigms."  Three of them are:

  • The Marketplace, which is the heart of the nation, has been redeemed and now needs to be reclaimed.  
  • Every Christian is a minister, and labor is worship. 
  • Nation transformation must be tangible and the premier social indicator is the elimination of systemic poverty. 

This means putting divine value on what we do with each day.  It means working at real jobs.  It means taking care of "daily bread" needs for the marginalized AND systematized macro reformation leading to prosperity... for all.  People caring for People.

I love Bruce Springsteen's music because when I hear it, I see characters without any glossy idyllic gobbledygook. Just real people feeling real things... trying to make it. And it resonates because they are painted by a real fella just doing his part with the imperfect but marvelous gift he's been given.

It's about all of us going to the promised land TOGETHER... and not leaving anyone behind.

This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This Train
Carries whores and gamblers
This Train
Carries lost souls
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin'
This Train
Carries broken-hearted
This Train
Thieves and sweet souls departed
This Train
Carries fools and kings
This Train
All aboard



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