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Bruce Springsteen

By Gary Wien

It’s safe to say that if Bruce Springsteen hadn’t burst on to the national scene with Born To Run the history of rock music along the Jersey Shore might have been a rather short chapter or two.  For years, New Jersey had not only lived in the shadow of New York City but record labels there couldn’t care less about bands from the Shore.  Even though Asbury Park is only an hour away from Manhattan, it was a world’s away in their eyes.  Until Bruce made it big, they wouldn’t even bother come down to see what the area’s biggest bands were all about.

The success of Springsteen changed everything.  All of a sudden places like the Stone Pony were crawling with record executives hoping to find the next big thing.  Not only that, but people growing up in the area were given hope that they could make it.  After all, Bruce was a local boy.

One of the greatest things about Bruce Springsteen is that he never forgot where he came from.  From making guest appearances at local clubs to performing benefits to support a myriad of causes, Bruce Springsteen has remained a major role in the area.  And now that Asbury Park appears ready to fly again, Springsteen has stepped up his focus in the city.  His performances at Convention Hall for the upcoming Rising tour brought the world’s attention back to Asbury Park.  It had been far too long since the city had been portrayed in a positive light.

There have been scores upon scores of books written about Bruce and his history.  This book chooses to focus on the parts of his musical history that have somewhat faded away with time and with the rest of the Asbury Park music scene.  Many of the artists in this book are friends of Bruce Springsteen’s, and many have either been influenced by Bruce or feel as though their music is the direct opposite of Springsteen’s, almost an anti-Bruce if you will.  But one thing is for sure, the entire Asbury Park music scene really is focused around Bruce Springsteen.  He’s the reason many of the musicians live here, he’s the reason many of the fans come to the shows and he’s the reason Asbury Park is known as one of the greatest music scenes in the country.

One of the most important things that can be said about Bruce Springsteen is that he is still, above all else, an artist.  The Rising was every bit as good of a record as he has ever put out.  That an artist can  create a work which defines a time period is impressive.  That he continues to do so over a period of over thirty years is simply amazing.

It is my hope that people reading this book will take a look at and listen to all of the artists throughout these pages.  Some clearly sound influenced by Springsteen and some do not, but all of them understand the role that Bruce has played in this area.  There is no music history in Asbury Park without Bruce.

From the book Beyond The Palace by Gary Wien

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.

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originally published: 01/26/2012



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