Did Bruce Springsteen set my career path?

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before (likely as I have been writing this blog for going on six years now) but after graduating with an MBA I came back to New Brunswick and tried for months to get a job in the province (a career starting job).  I sent out hundreds of letters and received no interest.  I still remember a telephone call with NBTel and the lady telling me they got 300 qualified applicants for each available job.

So I headed out west, grew a ponytail and worked for six months flipping burgers at a greasy spoon with my MBA in tow.  During that period, in the kitchen I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A. album over and over again the entire six months.    I must have listened to it at least 10 times a day for 150 days or more.  So I heard the same music 1,500 times in a row.

I raise this because since then I have only listened to that music a handful of times in 18 years.  Yesterday I put on a Springsteen revue in the car driving back from Halifax.   Here are a sample of the lyrics:

From Hometown:

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to your hometown
Your hometown
Your hometown
Your hometown

Last night me and Kate we laid in bed
talking about getting out
Packing up our bags maybe heading south
I’m thirty-five we got a boy of our own now
Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son take a good look around
This is your hometown

From Downbound Train:

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going mister in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard
Now I work down at the carwash
Where all it ever does is rain
Don’t you feel like you’re a rider on a downbound train


In this album and others he grappled with the dislocation from globalization and its effects on mainstreet America (mostly New Jersey).   It is possible that subliminally this music has stuck in my craw all these years.

3 thoughts on “Did Bruce Springsteen set my career path?

  1. Pair up Springsteen’s Nebraska with another great album released the same year – Tom Waits’ swordfishtrombones – and you have a fine portrait of the new depression. what’s it say that they resonate here as powerfully in 2010 as they did in 1982, because in NB, that state of dislocation has never ended?
    Where’s our Atlantic City?

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