Coaster Photo by John Cavanaugh
Bruce Springsteen at a music symposium Oct. 28 at Monmouth University.
By WILLIAM CLARK
He wasn’t on the official schedule, but not many in the sold out crowd were surprised as Bruce Springsteen was introduced on the stage of the Pollack Theater at Monmouth University Sat., Oct. 28.
Springsteen joined the event where The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle, his second album, was being discussed and celebrated during a daylong symposium.
Different panels of speakers took the stage throughout the day to discuss the production and legacy of the album.
Then The Boss himself came out to thunderous applause and the unmistakable long syllable of his name.
Archives Director Bob Santelli moderated the half an hour conversation that ranged from the songs of the album, Springsteen’s early days on the music scene and his love of New Jersey.
“You got me off the beach and out of the ocean,” Springsteen opened his remarks, which were fitting on the unseasonably warm 80 degree autumn day.
Springsteen said the objective of his sophomore release was simple: distance himself from the label of singer-songwriter.
“I wanted to introduce myself as a rock and roll performer,” he said.
Springsteen said that his first record, Greetings from Asbury Park, didn’t allow electric guitars.
“But the second record, I knew I wanted to write basically the rock and soul music which is what I was interested in,” he said. “And I wanted it to be stuff that we could perform great on stage.”
The 1973 release came just 10 months after his debut album and was written in a classic Jersey Shore venue.
“In Bradley Beach in a garage apartment on Fifth Avenue,” he said of the place where he would lay down the guitar or piano foundations of the seven tracks that would ultimately make the cut.
The conversation touched on many of the landmarks of Springsteen’s early career: his Freehold home where he left after high school, the Loch Arbour beach where he penned Blinded by the Light, and Convention Hall in Asbury Park where he took in classic acts like The Who and The Doors.
Although Springsteen said he spent time in his formative years in the haunts of New York City, when it came time to define himself as a musician and a person, he was proud to be from the Garden State.
“I was very intent on saying that I was from New Jersey,” he said, especially when he was being pressured to say he was from New York. It was seemingly a fight he had to have across the country when he was speaking to a person during a gig in San Francisco. Springsteen said the man asked where they were from. Springsteen said New Jersey.
“ He said, ‘What’s that?’ Not even where’s that,” Springsteen recounted.
As the conversation progressed to how Springsteen had to battle to support his second album, Santelli asked if he had ever lost faith in himself.
“I never doubted myself,” Springsteen replied as the crowd cheered the response, a verbal reinforcement that it was strange anyone ever doubted him.
It seems strange now that Springsteen’s second record didn’t sell well at the time, but it was a pivotal part of his journey as a musician. Santelli asked if anyone in the sold out 230 seat theater had gone to his 2009 show where he and the E Street Band performed the record in its entirety. Almost a quarter of the hands there shot straight into the air.
Any member of the audience who had not had an appreciation for The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle before the symposium may find it vital to revisit.
“Everything that I’ve basically done the rest of my career really began on the Wild and Innocent,” he said.