Music brings people together. It has a way of transcending borders and boundaries…shedding light on situations helping us all to realize that we are not so different from one another. Music is the cornerstone for several of my friendships, and Doug (Marlboro) is one of those friends. Our friendships began twenty-three years ago in Kurashiki, Japan. This friendship has a very strong musical cornerstone of three artists: Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Bruce Springsteen.
During my time living and teaching in Kurashiki, many evenings were spent in the company of other English teachers. We would often gather at each other’s tiny apartments for drinks, food, and movies. One particular night, several were gathered at the Vessar residence. It was a small group consisting of Jo, Anna, Noriko, Dale, Doug, my wife Melissa, and myself. A small group that seemed very large in the confines of our tiny Japanese apartment! Dinner was over and it was movie time. On that night, it was decided to watch a horror movie. If memory serves, I believe the movie was Halloween III or it may have been The Sandman. Due to the years that have passed and the amount of beer that was consumed, my memory may be flawed! Not a fan of horror, Doug retired to the other room to play his guitar and listen to music. I soon followed and before we both knew it, we were listening to and singing Springsteen songs. This led to deep conversations about the man and his music. The depth and power of the lyrics. We both spoke of our respect and amazement at how Bruce could capture the heart and soul of the working man and the dreamer. A new cornerstone had been laid for our friendship that, along with Cash and Elvis, became part of the foundation that has allowed our bond to grow even stronger now twenty-three years later.
I was actually speaking with Doug the other day about how I was making a Bruce Springsteen Top Twenty (need more than ten on this one!). We talked about how a top ten was not enough and maybe it would have to be a top thirty and how this list could change depending on the day of the week and present struggles and successes. He even challenged me to create a top ten Springsteen albums list. We talked of the political elements of his music and the fact that his music and lyrics stand the test of time and continue to be relevant from “Thunder Road” to “The Promise” to “My City of Ruins” to “Long Walk Home”. It was like we were our younger selves again back in Kurashiki in that little apartment oblivious to everything but Springsteen’s music. No time had passed. Now that is the mark of a true friendship. That is what music is really all about, bringing people together at an emotional level as human beings to help us all understand that we all have the same fears, concerns, hopes, and dreams. And that is a long time comin’.
My top twenty Bruce Springsteen songs!
- Thunder Road
- The River
- Ghost of Tom Joad (Live) [feat. Tom Morello]
- Racing in the Street
- Atlantic City
- Long Time Comin’
- Darlington County
- Long Walk Home
- Bobby Jean
- Born to Run
- The Last Carnival
- Girls in Their Summer Clothes
- The Little Things (My Baby Does)
- Further On (Up the Road)
- Darkness on the Edge of Town
- Queen of the Supermarket
- Hungry Heart
- Better Days
Check out the Cash connection in my blog post “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash (Well, His Top Ten Songs Anyway).