I was fourteen years old when Bruce Springsteen released the Born to Run album—though for me it was the Born to Run 8-track. The player in my 1969 Chevy Impala eventually required a Popsicle stick to adjust the tracking, because I wore it out singing those eight songs over and over: Someday girl I don’t know when we’re gonna’ get to that place were we really want to go and we’ll walk in the sun, but till then tramps like us baby we were born to run.
When Bruce and the E Street Band came to Cleveland a friend said, “A bunch of us are going to hear Springsteen. Do you want to go?”
Most aficionados would have immediately, enthusiastically shouted, “Yes!” but most aficionados weren’t conservative-leaning-to-fundamentalist-Christians. I ended up saying “No,” because I was afraid of the people who would be there. I pictured a crowd drinking beer and smoking dope. My religious upbringing made it clear that I shouldn’t be part of a mob of criminals, reprobates, and good for nothings.
I was forty-seven before I got to my first Springsteen concert. When we got to our seats—which were “backstage” but not in a good way—the could-have-been-a-vice-principal next to Carol asked, “Do you think we’ll have to stand through this?”
A quick glance at the gray hair around us made Carol confident in saying, “I’m sure we’ll get to sit.”
We stood for the whole two and half hours. Some danced in the aisles. We clapped and raised our hands. We shouted and sang as a congregation. It felt like a Pentecostal revival.
The Boss thinks we are all in this together—criminals, reprobates and church people:
Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home
Don’t make no difference what nobody says
Ain’t nobody like to be alone.
Everybody’s got a hungry heart.
I looked at the people who were singing with such joy and was embarrassed for myself and for the part of the church that keeps pushing people away. The choir included drinkers and teetotalers, the promiscuous and the chaste, black and white, old and young, bikers and preachers. Where in the Gospels do any of us get the idea that church people should feel superior to anyone else in the crowd?
On Sunday, January 22, at 3:00 at the parsonage, a group will gather to discuss Bruce’s new memoir, Born to Run, and how God loves us all—even the tramps like us that were born to run.