Bruce Springsteen Made Me An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Source: Jason Kempin/Getty Images North America

I’d always heard that, off-stage, Bruce Springsteen is a very normal sort of person. Meaning that the uninhibited, propulsive sides of his personality are reserved for those many moments when he stands beneath spotlights. Yes, everybody knows that in concert he rocks and rolls like few mortals ever have, sweating up storms of great magnitude while giving it all he has. And now I can attest to the truth of this paragraph’s first sentence too, because last week I met The Boss. At my house, no less. He’s a good guy. As is his buddy Steven Van Zandt, a guitar slinger who has been a member of Springsteen’s E Street Band for many years. I didn’t know that they were planning to visit me. I’d have put on something more flattering than a Donald Duck tee shirt and a pair of candy-striped shorts if I had. Whatever, as they say. The main thing is that it’s a good thing I was home when they knocked on my suburban Philadelphia front door yesterday afternoon.

“Hey, Neil, surprise!” said Stevie when I opened the door. “You’re not the best looking guy I’ve ever seen, but you’re nowhere near as ugly as I was expecting. Bruce and I drove all the way from northern New Jersey to meet you. We’re glad to be here. Nice shorts, by the way.”

“Holy crap!” I said. “Stevie? Bruce? What the hell’s going on? Is this a joke? Am I on Candid Camera?”

“Hi, Neil,” said Bruce, peeking out from behind his friend. “Believe it or not, we’re here on serious business. Well, maybe not all that serious. We’ll explain all. C’mon, man, can we come in? I’ve got to use your bathroom. Half an hour ago I emptied a two liter bottle of RC Cola in no time flat. Big mistake. My bladder is sending out an SOS.”

“Gentlemen, enter!” I said, bowing and sweeping my right hand in a dramatic, welcoming arc. Enter they did, Bruce quickly spotting the ground floor john and heading towards it pronto. Stevie and I shook hands and took seats in the living room. I stared at him in disbelief. He smiled that smile of his that’s wide as a canyon.

“Stevie, what do you want to drink?” I finally managed to ask.

“Got any seltzer? Bruce I’m sure would love some, too.”

“I’ve got gallons of it. I’ll be right back.”

Two minutes later I strode into the living room with a big tray that held glasses of fizzy water and bowls of pretzels and chips. I looked at Bruce, who had finished his business and taken a seat on the sofa, and at Stevie. We lifted the glasses to our lips and reached into the bowls.

“Guys,” I said, “nothing like this has ever happened to me. Woody Allen is the only star I ever met before. That was in 1973 when I was living in Manhattan. I accidentally knocked him over with a shopping cart in a Gristedes supermarket when I made a U- turn in the cereal aisle. He got up from the floor, glared at me and kept on shopping. Never said a word. More importantly, he didn’t sue.”

“Yeah, Woody’s the forgiving kind, so that doesn’t surprise me,” said Stevie. “Anyway, here’s why we’ve paid you a visit. It’s because of that story you wrote last week about your weakening obsession with music [click here to read it]. It found its way to one of the Springsteen-fan websites.” Bruce nodded in agreement. “And Brucie boy, having nothing better to do, checked out that site the other day. Your story jumped out at him like a wild animal. After reading it he knew that he had to take some action to try and help you out. So, he called me, told me what your article was about and explained everything he had in mind. I was on board just like that.” He snapped his fingers to emphasize the point. “Ergo, here we are. And don’t bother asking how we found out where you live. It’s a Google world, my man. The only person that nobody can find hasn’t been born yet.”

“Stevie, Bruce, I’m humbled. Please continue.”

“Neil, we’re all about the same age here. Not getting any younger, that’s for sure,” Bruce said. “But Stevie and I are having the times of our lives. Just like always. We haven’t gotten tired of rock and roll in the least. Man, the passion, the fire are still there. It broke my heart when I read in your article that you’re only one-fifth the music guy that you used to be. Neil, we have come to get you out of what I am convinced is a funk. We want to turn you back into the rock and roll animal that you once were. And you know how we’re going to do that? Hold onto the few strands of hair that you have left on your wrinkly head . . . Neil, we want you to become part of The E Street Band! You’ll have more excitement than you ever thought possible. You’ll travel all over the world. You’ll drown, like me and Stevie and the rest of the band, in audience applause. Man, you’re going to have the time of your life.”

Photo: Don Marshall

I swear, my jaw dropped through the living room floor and into the basement. Whose wouldn’t have? Quickly I pulled it back into place, slapped myself in the face and said, “Bruce, this is an offer only a fool would refuse. My life has been good till now, but I wouldn’t mind it becoming great. Only problem is, I’m unfit to be in your band. You guys are the best. Me, I can’t stay on pitch when I sing. And I have less talent on musical instruments than the average three year old.”

“Doesn’t matter, Neil,” said The Boss. “We’ll teach you to sing simple background harmonies. You’ll sound just fine. And as far as instruments go, I want you to play the triangle. Anybody can play the triangle. And on a few tunes maybe we’ll have you bang on some wood blocks. Some of my songs would be strengthened with some incisive wood block poundings, don’t you think, Stevie?” Steven gave the thumbs-up sign emphatically. “Thunder Road, for instance, and Born In The U.S.A. You will be able to handle this, Neil. I’m totally confident.”

At that moment Sandy, my wife, turned her key in the front door lock and entered our house. She had been out shopping for some Matisse-inspired toilet seat covers. Sadly, none were to be found. Bruce and Steven rose, fine gentlemen that they are, when she came into the living room. Not unexpectedly, her jaw dropped not only into the basement but through the basement floor itself.

Well, Bruce and Steven hung around Sandy’s and my house for a few more hours. We all got on famously. Like I said, they are good guys. Very good guys. Bruce and the band are taking a break from the road right now, but plans for the next round are in the works. Rehearsals and touring start early next year. Sandy will fly to be with me now and then, like when the band is in London and Amsterdam and Stockholm. I’m psyched about what’s ahead.

This is the damndest thing, isn’t it? Me, a schlub who gets yanked from behind a computer keyboard to become a cog in one of the most popular bands in the universe. You know, I’m awake, but pinch me anyway. I won’t mind in the least.

 

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38 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen Made Me An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

  1. Martin June 7, 2017 / 2:25 am

    Wow! That’s the most amazing thing I’ve heard in ages. Matisse inspired toilet covers nowhere to be found? Where do you live? Antarctica? You need to move somewhere more civilised,

    BTW good luck with the Springsteen thing.

    Liked by 5 people

      • Martin June 7, 2017 / 1:18 pm

        Watch out for that very important ‘ting’ halfway through Thunder Road.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. joyce hamilton June 7, 2017 / 8:01 am

    That was some dream!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cincinnatibabyhead June 7, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    “I want you to play the triangle”. I don’t know what to say. That’s one of the best lines I’ve ever heard.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Alyson June 7, 2017 / 1:20 pm

    Wow, first Keith Richards and his wife and now Bruce and Stevie – You are very well connected aren’t you?!

    I’ll have to write a post myself about losing my mojo for rock music and who knows, I may end with some of my heroes inviting me on tour – I may not be able to sing that well or play an instrument but there is always a need for a super-summary dancing type person on stage. Heck why just stick with the triangle, go for broke with a tambourine!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Alyson June 7, 2017 / 1:24 pm

    Of course that should have been “supernumerary” dancing type person (grrr… predictive text).

    Also meant to say excellent and very funny post – You are on form this week!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Cindy June 7, 2017 / 11:56 pm

    And you might want to learn the cowbell, too–it’s easy, and, who knows, if your next visitors are the guys from Blue Oyster Cult, you’ll be ready to rock’n’roll!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Miss Snarky Pants June 12, 2017 / 2:10 pm

        With your connections, I’m sure Will Ferrell would be happy to drop by and teach you what to do when Bruce hollers, “I need more cowbell!”

        Liked by 1 person

          • Miss Snarky Pants June 12, 2017 / 4:08 pm

            You’ve gained a new follower, but feel free to reach out if Christopher Walken ever offers to teach you to pause inappropriately. Or give him more cowbell. (I hear it’s all in the wrist.)

            Liked by 1 person

  7. sniderjerry June 9, 2017 / 11:08 am

    Hey there Neil, Let me know when the tour rolls toward Ohio. How much for the front row? Rock on! Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  8. andrewcferguson June 9, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    Neil, I think you’ll have to put in some effort on the sartorial side if you’re touring with the Boss. I mean, candy-striped shorts won’t cut it. On the other hand, you’ll have to think practical, too: Springsteen’s work ethic is legendary, so I imagine his interpretation of a little light block-pounding is going to leave you drenched in sweat. Pack plenty of spares, and check out the laundry arrangements in advance. I see these as priorities.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. aj vosse June 10, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    Well, if you need a helper… someone to plane your wooden blocks or polish your triangle… I’m your man! I mean… those blocks would need a lot of attention to stay tuned… and you being worn out after sweating buckets full every show… I’m your man!
    Bang on man… bang on! I’m your man!
    PS – Did I mention I’m your man??

    Liked by 1 person

  10. pjlazos June 12, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    Oh my gosh, I loooove your blog! And I’m from Jersey so, of course, I adore Bruce, too. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the next guy to ring the bell will be the real deal!😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 12, 2017 / 9:55 pm

      Hi PJ.
      I’m glad you liked this story.
      You know, I’d guess that Bruce would get a couple of laughs too in the incredibly unlikely event that he saw this piece one day.

      Take care. I’ll be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

  11. thebluze June 13, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    Great Story. I lost my obsession for music in 1977. The last concert I attended was Peter Gabriel at the Capitol Theater in Passaic NJ. I didn’t regain real interest until the 1990’s. During that drought I only was interested in Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robert Cray, U2, and a few other artists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 13, 2017 / 10:39 pm

      Hello. Thanks a lot for adding your thoughts.

      The acts you kept up with during your drought are good ones. Lots of good music there.

      See you —

      Like

  12. viewfromoverthehill June 13, 2017 / 11:26 pm

    And I thought I was a nut!!! Your imagination goes further than mine ever did. Great writing. I love it. Keep on. Muriel Kauffmann

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 13, 2017 / 11:47 pm

      Thanks for reading my stuff, Muriel. I appreciate it.
      I’ll be seeing you —

      Neil

      Like

  13. Still the Lucky Few June 14, 2017 / 12:22 am

    You forgot to mention to Bruce that you read his book, Born to Run. Next time you see him, don’t forget to do that. It might get you a mention in his next book, which I’m sure is on the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger June 14, 2017 / 7:48 am

      Morning, Diane.
      Bruce is an amazing talent,as everyone knows. He didn’t use a ghostwriter for his book. And it got great reviews overall.

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be seeing you —

      Like

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