A Cautious Man
May 06, 2008
Glory Days
First of all, I wasn't paying attention to the fact that there is now a New Jersey Hall of Fame. It's not a building yet, just a website. The first class of inductees were honored the other day. They include Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Clara Barton, Buzz Aldrin, Frank Sinatra, Toni Morrison, Yogi Berra, Vince Lombardi, and that guy, from down the shore - Bruce Springsteen.

Video link courtesy of Backstreets.com. Text of his speech is below, courtesy of the Star-Ledger -

You know, when I first got the letter, I was a little suspicious because . . . a New Jersey Hall of Fame? I don't know. Does New York have a hall of fame? Does Connecticut have a hall of fame? I mean, maybe they think they don't need one. But then I thought like, 'Well, let me see. All right, Albert Einstein, Bruce Springsteen . . . my mother's really gonna like that part.' So . . . she's here tonight, it's her birthday . . . it's the only time those two names are gonna be mentioned in the same sentence, is right now, so I'm gonna enjoy it.

But when I was recording my first album, the record company spent a lot of money taking a lot of pictures of me in New York City. And . . . something didn't quite feel right. I was walking down the boardwalk one day. And I stopped at a souvenir stand and bought a postcard, saying 'Greetings From Asbury Park.' I remember thinking, 'Yeah, that's me.' I mean, down south there was Patti Smith. And up north, right here in Newark, was George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, great musicians.

With the exception of, I guess, a few half-years in California, my family and I, we've raised our kids here. We got a big Italian-Irish family, and I found my own Jersey girl here . . . And in the end, I just found something that grew deeply resonant, like holding the hands of my kids on the same streets where my mom held my hand and swimming in the same ocean and visiting the same beaches I did as a child.

It was a place, also, that really protected me. It's been very nurturing. I could take my kids down to Freehold, throw 'em up on my shoulders and walk along the street, with thousands of other people on Cruise Nights, with everybody just going, 'Hey Bruce' . . . that was something that meant a lot to me, the ability to just go about my life. I was protected here, by the people here. And I really appreciated that.

So anyway . . . you get a little older now, you get those crisp fall days that come in September and the beginning of October. My friends and I, we slip into that cold water of that Atlantic Ocean. These days, you take note that there's a few less of your friends swimming alongside of you as each year passes. But something about being in one place your whole life, they're all still around you, in the water. And I look towards the shore, and I see my son and my daughter, pushing their way through the waves, and on the beach there's a whole batch of new little kids running away from the crashing surf. Like time itself.

That's what New Jersey is for me. It's a repository, now, of just my time on earth. My memory, the music I've made, friendships, my life, it's all buried here, at this point, in a box, somewhere in the sand, down on the Jersey Shore. And I can't imagine having it any other way.

But let me finish with a Garden State benediction.

Rise up, my fellow New Jerseyans, for we are all members of a confused but noble race. We of the state that will never get any respect, we who bear the cruelness of the forever uncool. A chip on the shoulders of those with forever something to prove. And even with this wonderful hall of fame, we know that there's another bad Jersey joke just around the corner.

But fear not, fear not! This is not our curse. It is our blessing. For this is what infused us with our fighting spirit, that we may salute the world forever with the fabulous Jersey state bird (raises middle finger). And that the fumes from our great northern industrial area, to the ocean breezes of Cape May, fill us with the raw hunger, the naked ambition and the desire not just to do our best, but to stick it in your face.

Theory of relativity, anybody? How about some electric light with your day? Or maybe a spin to the moon and back? That's right. And that is why our fellow Americans in those other 49 states know that when the announcer says, 'And now, in this corner, from New Jersey . . . ,' they'd better keep their hands up and their heads down, 'cause when that bell ings, we always come out swinging.

God bless the Garden State.

One last note - in 1969, my Dad took us to the parade in Montclair, New Jersey, when Buzz Aldrin came back to his home town after being the second man to walk on the moon. I didn't realize it at the time, but "second man on the moon" sounds like something that would happen to a guy from New Jersey. Hey, he went through everything that the "first" man on the moon did, but he gets less of the glory.

God Bless all you Jersey folk.



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