When last we left our Tramps, they were spending the night in a hotel outside Newburgh, NY. These are the continued adventures of SPRING(steen) BREAK, 2014.
After just a short night’s sleep (to me, anything less than the recommended twelve hours is a short rest), we were back on the road again. The NY Thruway and Rts. 287 and 78 fell away as my Dad and I powered through Jersey and Pennsylvania en route to the house of my Dad’s friend on the outskirts of Allentown, PA. The Beaupre family couldn’t have been more gracious or hospitable hosts, and if any of you are reading this: thank you again!
Stopping like this meant that we only had about an hour’s drive to get to the second venue of our Springsteen Pilgrimage – Hershey Park, PA! I’d been to Hershey once before, back when I was seven, and my only memory from that prior trip was a feeling of disappointment that the chocolate factory had neither an all-edible display room or oompa-loompa workers. This second venture was a much more satisfying experience, because instead of Loompaland residents singing Roald Dahl songs, the music on tap for the night was hardcore Jersey rock’n’roll.
Like I said, I’ve been to my fair share of Bruce shows, but out of all of them, I’ve never seen stronger attendance from the 25-under crowd as there was at this one. From our ground-level seats facing the stage, Hershey could have been mistaken for Coachella or one of those other big festival crowds. There’s some young blood moving onto E-Street, and it’s about time!
Over the two nights, Bruce and the band played forty two songs, covering a span of releases from 1964-2014… that’s fifty years’ worth of material. Not too shabby. And my Dad, who reached show #59 at Hershey, leaned over after one song (a solo number by Bruce on the piano), and said, “I’m gonna say it. That’s the best vocals I’ve seen him do. Ever.” Totally ignoring the rain that was pouring down by the end of the night, everyone had a phenomenal time, and we were still grinning by the time we had reached the car afterwards.
We slept the night at the Beaupres, and left early the next morning to beat the highway traffic. It was onto the last stop of our road trip, the Canterbury Cathedral of our Chaucerian pilgrimage (you’re welcome, Professor Kee). Yes, we went allllllll the way back to the beginning, the spot where Springsteen got his start… Asbury Park, NJ! There are a lot of HC people from the Jersey area, who know Asbury Park for its mainstream purpose as a beachside resort. For E-Streeters however, this place takes on mythic proportions; Bruce got his first guitar at this store, played his first concert in this park, met wingman Clarence Clemons down this alley, so on. The Boss tells tall tales of Asbury Park at all his concerts, so I figured it was high time to see what lay behind all the mystery.
A thick, thick fog had descended on the Jersey Shore by the time we arrived, so that feeling of ghost stories was enhanced quite a bit.
I don’t know whether it was just off-season, or if the area is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but many of the structures were closed for repairs, and only skeleton remains of the architecture were left standing. It was kinda really cool, actually.
And then it was a stop by the Stone Pony, perhaps the most famous bar in rock’n’roll. Bruce and the E-Street Band, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, they all got their start at this one venue. While it’s still a fully functioning barroom and concert venue, it’s really more like a museum inside; the walls are papered with pictures and newspaper clippings from the different times some of rock’s biggest superstars have come back to visit their humble roots, and it was like discovering Eden for someone like me who’s grown up on Springsteen’s music.
It was back in the car, then, to wage war against the traffic for another 5 hours, eventually pulling back into good old Lowell, MA, just around dinner time. Get this: as the car turned onto our street, the mileometer reached 1000 miles EXACTLY, and the gas light came on. Freaky, man. Don’t believe me? HA.
So that was it! To those uninterested in Springsteen or rock history, these last two posts were probably as interesting as a black and white movie through the prairies of Nebraska, or a sparse, acoustic folk album. To me, though, it was, as I’ve said, nothing short of a pilgrimage. I was listening to Springsteen literally in the womb, and I’ve grown up going to his concerts with my Dad. Bruce concerts aren’t just filled with great moments, they’re filled with great bonding moments, and this road trip offered just some of the latest in a long line of them. People scratch their heads as to why we follow the E-Street Band around the northeast like we do, but I hope this blog has given them an answer. If your dad was cool enough to do crazy stuff like this with you, wouldn’t you be doing it too? Yeah, I thought so. Will we ever stop doing it? Will we ever get to a point where we say, “ENOUGH SPRINGSTEEN ALREADY?” Someday, girl, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go, and we’ll walk in the sun, but till then, tramps like us, baby we were Born to Run.
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