I remember this. Lying on the floor of my friend Selly’s bedroom floor in a Jozi suburb in 1980 (I was 15) and him playing me The River. I didn’t know what a union card was in the song but I imagined his brother’s car, and that drive to the river, and lying on those banks. That was my first date with Springsteen. I bought the double LP and then went backwards in time to catch up.
I remember me and Lance and the endless debate about which Springsteen song was the greatest. I swore for Badlands then, and second Thunder Road, while Lance swore there was nothing ever greater than Born to Run. We agreed that his most under appreciated song was Mary, Queen of Arkansas and we went back to study the lyrics. “I don’t understand how you can hold me so tight, and love me so damn loose”.
I remember this. I remember news that he had married a model and I turned my giant framed poster to face the wall in mourning.
I remember a windy Cape Town night. My ‘varsity boyfriend Nick and I drove his mom’s bakkie to the Goodwood showgrounds for some fair. We got out and the sun was setting. We could smell manure. Nick was wearing a checked shirt. Nebraska was playing over the tinny loudspeakers. “Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe evrything that dies someday comes back, Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic city”.
I remember this. Making forever friends with Robyn and us screaming the lyrics of No Surrender “Blood Brothers in the stormy night, with a vow to defend, No retreat no surrender”. I remember her singing perfectly “Through the wind, through the snow, through the rain, you got my, my love, oh girl you’ve got my Loooooove, heart and soul”, from the bootlegged live show of Drive All Night that we had on cassette and finally on vinyl too. “When I lost you honey, sometimes I think I lost my guts too.” By then I was in a relationship with Springsteen.
I remember this. My longest friend Mark Austin buying me the box set of Springsteen Live 1975-1985 and it being my treasure. I still have it, tattered but beautiful, today.
I remember the drive in another bakkie in 1988 and an all night wait at the Beit Bridge border to the best day of my life Amnesty International concert where I loved Springsteen with 70 000 other Africans. I remember his speech, and his black jeans and waistcoat, and twisting and shouting into the Harare night.
I remember feeling almost dead and broken hearted after a big love ended and having an anonymous friend post this in the Mail and Gaurdian, to me. “Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night”.
I remember this. My first date with Big Friendly. I had just fallen in love with Worlds Apart. I was about to fall in love with Big Friendly. I was singing “Sometimes the truth just ain’t enough, Or is it too much in times like this
Let’s throw the truth away we’ll find it in this kiss, In your skin upon my skin in the beating of our hearts,
May the living let us in before the dead tear us apart”.
I remember Heather and Mark singing to Big Friendly and I as we got married and walked through the trees, “Now there’s a beautiful river in the valley ahead, There neath the oaks bough soon we will be wed, Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees, I’ll wait for you, And should I fall behind, Wait for me, Darlin I’ll wait for you…”.
There is more. So much more. I made Candy’s Room for you. I was Crazy Janey. I was on Fire. I sat at the campfire light and waited for the ghost of Tom Joad. I ran on the Backsteets. I blew away the lies that left us nothing but lost and broken hearted. I stood in the Working Line. I went with you down the Tunnel of Love. I entered Lucky Town and even played Roulette.
I love you Bruce. You grew me up and made me love words and music and men and other people.