New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


For great Jersey music and much more, tune into our radio station at AsburyMusic.com

Bruce In Asbury Park

By Gary Wien

originally published: 01/26/2012

I can still remember the night Dave and I were invited to the Asbury Rock ‘N Roll Museum to hear an advance copy of Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love CD.  The guys from the museum, Billy Smith and Stephen Bumball, had managed to have a copy sent to them a month before it was scheduled to be released.  They invited a bunch of their friends to a special listening party.  There must have been at least thirty people cramped into a small room all anxious to hear which direction Bruce was going.  Dave and I were the youngest in the crowd by far and we were kind of surprised to be invited.  It was the first time I had ever been part of something like that  and it would be a night I’d never forget.

When it was first released, Tunnel of Love didn’t seem to register very high with Springsteen fans and I never understood why.  Maybe it was because it was technically a solo record or maybe the legions of fans that joined up during the Born In The USA run expected something harder, more rock and roll.  Whatever the reason, it received somewhat lukewarm reviews.  But, for me, it was a great record from the very first note.

I remember hearing the unabashed honesty of “Ain’t Got You” leading off the record.  Here was Bruce, baring his soul in public in a way he rarely had ever done before, talking about personal problems and failures from the first person point of view.   There was no need to hide under character names, no need to gloss over the production.  It was bare bones honesty coming to you with nothing more than the sound of his guitar.

As I closed my eyes, I took it all in as if I was hearing him live in concert with a bunch of my friends.  For true Springsteen fans, hearing his music with a bunch of people always sounded better.  It was as if his songs needed to played in front of an audience.  Bruce may have started out as a singer-songwriter but his live performances overshadowed that part of him.  Ironically, even in a crowd of thousands, his songwriting always made it feel like he was singing just for you.

By the time the organ began playing in “Tougher Than The Rest,” goosebumps were running up and down my arm.  I could sense that this was definitely a new direction for Bruce and I was totally into it.  As each song was introduced to me for the very first time, I knew that there was something special going on.  The images of gypsies, amusement park rides and walks on the beach gave me the feeling that this was Bruce’s return to writing about Jersey.  Although the places weren’t really mentioned by name, we knew where they were.  Maybe this was his present to us, his long-time fans.  Maybe it was his way of saying goodbye or writing a new chapter to his life.  All I know is that it contained the last Springsteen songs to evoke such hometown memories until “My City of Ruins” was released.

The sparse production throughout the record seemed to make you focus on each and every lyric.  Unlike Nebraska, the added arrangements made this a very accessible record even for those who weren’t fans of folk music.  It was sparse, but felt complete.  By the time we had gone through the entire record, I felt I knew every song by heart.  I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure that the crowd couldn’t wait to hear it again and it was quickly started once more. 



The article continues after this ad

 


The Palace was always a wonderful place for me.  As we called it a night and headed to our car, I remember staring at the tunnel of love sign along the building while the song replayed in my head.  The neon lights were all lit up and shining, their reflection bounced over the lake.  For one moment, it seemed like time had been turned back for Asbury Park.   Nobody was thinking about the boardwalk being in bad shape or the graffiti stained walls.  It was just a magical night.  It’s hard to believe that the Palace would be shut down the following year.

This was the second time that I had heard a new Springsteen record at the Palace.  The first was for the live box set put out a few years earlier.  The Palace had a general listening party and it attracted hundreds of people.  It was the last time I ever saw the place packed.  There were literally lines around the building to get in.  They had the CD playing so loud you could hear it while you waited to get in.  People had the same type of anticipation that they have before going to a Springsteen concert. My friends and I had been going to the Palace for years and never expected a crowd like this to show up.   I finally had a glimpse of what Asbury was like during its glory days. 

Normally when we’d hang out at the Palace during the weekend there would only be a couple dozen

people there.  But this was like a Hollywood movie premier party.

When The Rising was released, the official listening party was held at the Stone Pony.  It was an exciting time as Bruce and the E-Street Band would be playing live on the “Today Show” from Convention Hall in the morning.  Once again, the boardwalk was visited by thousands of people.  There were more people inside the bar that night than I had ever seen before in my life.  It was right in the middle of one of New Jersey’s worst heat waves in years.

It must have been nearly 90 degrees at midnight when they started selling the record.  All night long, the bar played selections from The Rising as sweaty fans took their turns answering trivia questions to win various prizes.  The outdoor tent area provided little relief as that too was packed with fans.   It was so hot that many people had to leave the club and return a few minutes later.  Apparently, everyone knows that there’s nothing in the world like hearing a new Springsteen record in Asbury Park.

It was very encouraging to see those types of crowds in Asbury Park again.  Cars were parked all throughout the town leaving those just arriving to circle round and round trying to find a spot.  There was definitely an energy in the air.  Springsteen fans form a community.  They love meeting other fans and telling stories about their favorite records and concerts they’ve seen.  And there’s no place better to do that than in Asbury Park.

The Rising contained lyrics every bit as personal as those found on Tunnel of Love.  While he once sang from the perspective of a man struggling to deal with the problems of the adult world, the lyrics became that of a man struggling to deal with problems that he has no control over.  Both records contain fear and love, hopes and dreams.  But on The Rising, Bruce not only spoke from his own experience he spoke for everyone.  He spoke for the people he saw on television.  He spoke for the families he met after 9/11.  And he spoke for all those who needed a voice, who needed to know that they weren’t alone.

Nobody quite knew how artists would respond to the attack on America or who would have the courage to speak up or even what words could possibly heal the country.  Somehow Bruce found the courage and he found the words.  He delivered his best record in ages.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The song “My City of Ruins” was first performed at Convention Hall in Asbury Park during a Christmas Show.  It was dedicated to the hard working people like Kate Mellina who are doing everything they can to bring Asbury Park back to glory.  It was a present to the town from one of its favorite sons.  The chant “come on rise up, come on rise up” became the town’s slogan as well as its mission.  The words could soon be found on signs in windows throughout the business district.

After 9/11 the song took on a new meaning when it was adopted as a symbol of New York’s resiliency.  Bruce performed it live during the Concert For New York.  What once was a gift to Asbury Park became a gift to the entire world.  The music of Springsteen once again lifted itself from the beach towns of the Jersey Shore to the hearts and souls of people throughout the country.  We realized long ago that we couldn’t keep Bruce all for ourselves, he belongs to the world.

Thankfully for us, he continues to bring the world to Asbury Park.  From his benefit shows at Convention Hall to taking the “Today Show” crew on a tour around town, Bruce Springsteen is the best spokesperson Asbury Park could ever hope to have. 




From the book Beyond The Palace by Gary Wien


For more by this author, click here






Arijit Singh's New North American Tour Will Include Single Stop In Tri-State Region At Prudential Center on April 13
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Bright Brain Productions, the leading entertainment company based in California announced the “Arijit Singh LIVE Tour” in 12 cities all across the U.S. This is the first of its kind and largest tour done by Arijit Singh or any Indian artist. The tour beings on April 5 and travels through major U.S. cities culminating on May 5.  The tour stops at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm.
Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.


Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!










Event calendar
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


MUSIC

John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm







COMEDY

Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


MISC

The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.