It’s not as if he had 41 Shots while driving a pink Cadillac.
He only had one or two when he was busted on his bike.
I’m talking about Bruce Springsteen. The minute the news broke that he had been nabbed on a charge of drinking and driving back in November, headline writers all over America had great fun joking about his lyrics.
The New York Post went with the headline “Born to Rum.” Writer Aaron Feis suggested several others, including “Blinded by the Bud Light” and “Spirits in the Night.”
The latter refers to one of the best of Springsteen’s early songs, “Spirit in the Night.” It described a trip by Bruce and a bunch of his buddies to a pond out in the Pines called “Greasy Lake” during which all seem to get drunk on “rose” (pronounced like the flower, not the French wine.)
That lake “down on the dark side of Route 88”is now a park with no alcoholic beverages allowed – not unlike the spot where Springsteen was hit with charges that included drinking in a prohibited area.
Until 2019, Sandy Hook also permitted alcoholic beverages. But this being Jersey, too many people got too drunk. Booze was banned.
The Jersey Shore just ain’t what it used to be.
Back in the early 1970s, there were plenty of places that remained wild, as in Springsteen’s second album, “The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.”
These days the Shore is tame. A bit too tame if you ask me.
From the reports, the Boss was riding along on his Triumph motorcycle when some fans waved him over. Springsteen pulled over and let them take some photos. They offered some tequila. According to a violation notice filed last week, he told the park ranger he had “two shots of tequila in the last 20 minutes.”
That was after the ranger “informed him alcohol was prohibited at Sandy Hook.”
Given that Bruce wasn’t the one who had brought the alcohol into the park, perhaps the rangers might have suggested he park the bike and take an Uber home. Instead they threw the book at him. (Read Ted Sherman’s piece on how the case will be handled.)
The Asbury Park Press reported that Springsteen recorded a blood-alcohol level just a quarter of the legal limit.
On the other hand, the ranger said that Springsteen had “glassy eyes” and “was visibly swaying back and forth.”
That sounds bad, but a musician friend of mine told me that “having met him a couple times recently, he ain’t too steady to begin with.”
All this will be fought out in court. But that didn’t stop the people at Jeep from taking down the video of that two-minute ad he did for them during the Super Bowl.
For me, that ad was the real offense. Many a rock star has crashed a motorcycle, going back to Bob Dylan, also on a Triumph. (I personally prefer to crash Ducatis.)
But peddling your persona to sell products?
I can sympathize with a washed-up rocker like Bob Seger selling his song for a Chevy commercial. Seger probably has few other sources of income these days.
But Springsteen’s got plenty of dough. He doesn’t need whatever he got for trying to get more suckers to buy SUVs. I’ll grant that this is a personal obsession of mine. I have penned countless attacks on those radio right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity who sell mattresses in the same tones they sell their political analysis.
The same applies to Springsteen and his message about moving to “the middle.”
And what’s with that cornpone accent? Friends of mine who attended Ocean County College with Springsteen tell me that in his youth he talked the way the rest of us do.
Granted, those gravelly tones make him sound sincere. But as the old saying about acting goes, “Sincerity is the key. Once you learn to fake that, you’ve got it made.”
Springsteen has learned how to fake it. That piercing gaze as he stares into the camera from a Kansas cornfield might make you think he’s communicating some deep insights.
But you can’t do that with cliches. It’s embarrassing for a guy who once wrote some highly original lyrics to spew out pabulum like this:
“We can make it to the mountaintop, through the desert, and we will cross this divide. Our light has always found its way through the darkness. And there’s hope on the road . . . up ahead.”
That’s not hope, Bruce. That’s a park ranger.
You’re not in Kansas anymore. Better act that way.
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ALSO: GREAT VERSION OF ‘SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT.’