THIS GUY, HE’S THE REAL THING

1. It’s Tuesday, August 25, 2015.

2. It would not be surprising if the Philadelphia Phillies’ outfielders called in sick for tonight’s game against the Mets. They all must have sore necks from watching so many balls fly over their heads into the seats last night. 

3. Today is the 40th anniversary of the release of the album “Born to Run,” what Bruce Springsteen apparently thought was his last-chance power drive for greatness. Anyone who denies its masterpiece status is completely clueless, and even kids who might think of this as fuddy-duddy music still appreciate its craft and diligence. My K-pop, hip-hop loving son who groans whenever James Taylor plays in the car has been with me to two Springsteen concerts — and roared as first Clarence Clemons and then his nephew, Jake, hammered the “Jungleland” sax solo. 

4. Confession: I was the program director for WNUR, Northwestern’s radio station, when “Born to Run” was released in 1975.

In my progressive programming mind, there were two things wrong with the album. One was that it was over-hyped; Time and Newsweek had Springsteen on the cover the same week. Second was the fact that it was getting overplayed on a station whose philosophy was supposed to be not to play the same thing over and over.

So I hid the album in my office for a month. And, being 21 and a jerk, I returned it to circulation after playing it on my last DJ shift.

I’ve changed a lot in 40 years.

5. My favorite track on the album is “Meeting Across the River.”

One of the odes to the album’s milestone that has appeared today cites the line in “Jungleland” that could very well be the summation of the album: “an opera on the Turnpike.” “Born to Run” is an opera about growing up disaffected in a place that has seen better days.

And “Meeting Across the River” captures that tone beautifully, telling a story in three minutes and 19 seconds about two losers trying to perform some ethically iffy task without screwing it up again.

Added to the lyrics are the incredible piano and sax solos that gives it such a melancholy feel. 

6. In lots of ways, the issues that Springsteen tackled in “Born to Run” remain. The struggle of people working hard for a living who want a little something more, something that they see others have and just can’t attain.

The people who Springsteen sings about can go two ways.

They can give up and curse the powers that be. In 2015, alas, that’s manifested in the Donald Trump phenomenon. The strugglers succumb to hate and pettiness: someone else is to blame for their problems, and once we get them out of here, everything will be all right.

But there are people like Springsteen – trust me, he’s not alone – who understand the deck might be stacked but refuse to lay blame. They believe there’s a way for everyone to share in the bounty. We haven’t found it yet. But we shouldn’t stop trying.

For all the sketchiness of Springsteen’s Jersey Shore found in “Born to Run,” there are sounds of hope and love. Listen, because the story isn’t complete without them.

7. If today seems a little windy where you are, it might be because all those investors who watched yesterday’s Wall Street tumult are exhaling. There’s a rebound in the early going, and for some in the market it’s like a day at the outlet mall picking up bargains.

Just a reminder that markets go up and down, and up and down again. And usually, the long-term trend is up. Unless you bet on something crazy.

So, relax, have another cream soda, and enjoy this late-summer Tuesday. 

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