Bruce Springsteen began his book tour today in the New Jersey town he grew up in. Nearly two-thousand fans pre-registered for the highly restricted event at the Barnes and Noble store in Freehold. It was the first day of sales for his autobiography Born to Run, published by Simon & Schuster.
In the book, Springsteen recounts his childhood in New Jersey and personal struggles that inspired songs such as ‘Born to Run’, ‘Thunder Road’ and ‘My Hometown’ (about Freehold).
Springsteen dressed in all black, from shirt and leather jacket to jeans and shoes, didn’t say a word on his way to a small platform where he was flanked by two banners that featured a picture of the book’s cover. One interesting aspect of the event was that all of the books were pre-signed and author didn’t give a formal talk about the book. That didn’t seem to matter for his fans who were thrilled to get this chance to meet him.
Kerri Slivka of Wallington, N,J., wore a wedding dress for her photo with Bruce Springsteen.”This is the biggest day of my life,” she said.”I’ve been trying to meet him for 32 years.” Slivka went to her first Springsteen concert with her dad when she was 7 years old. ”I just fell in love.”
Barnes and Noble set up a system that resembled an assembly line. One by one fans stepped up to him, said a few words, snuck in a hug or a kiss and posed for a photo. In front of the stage, an assembly line of Barnes and Noble employees collected cameras, took photos, passed them on, and returned them to their owners.
Katrina Cox of Fanwood, N.J. was one of those waiting in line. Cox says she first saw Springsteen as a teenager in Chicago in the 1970s but didn’t become a huge fan until she saw his August 2015 show at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
”It was the best show I ever saw. After the MetLife show, I went on a Bruce Springsteen pilgrimage: places where he lived, where he went to school, clubs that he played. I feel like he really cares about his fans. I know he does”
Cox saw the Barnes and Noble appearance as a ”rare opportunity” to see Springsteen one-on-one, however briefly. ”I did the math: 2,000 people in four hours is about eight seconds per person. That’s not much of a chit-chat.”
Kristin Riviello of Manahawkin, N.J., showed up at 7 a.m. She’s seen Springsteen in concert 24 times, the first when she was 9 years old. ”He changed my life forever,” she said.” He opened up a world I never knew existed.”
25-year-old Erin Brown drove eight hours overnight from Cameron, N.C., to be here. “I love his music and his shows. They give me more joy than anything,” 25-year-old Erin Brown said. “His music collection is what ties things in life together rather than religion for me.”
Brown wore a homemade shirt with a heart on the back and was in tears when she approached Springsteen.
“Come here, sweetheart,” he told her.
“Hi, Bruce. I love you. You’re the best,” she said.
They snapped some photos and Brown hugged Springsteen. Brown sent the snapshots from her mobile phone to friends, and one replied they looked like a couple: “Which I love,” she sighed.
Springsteen’s book tour will also stop in New York; Philadelphia; Seattle; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Portland, Oregon.
Springsteen grew up in Freehold and wrote about it in his hit song ‘My Hometown’. Below you can watch concert footage of Bruce Springsteen performing ‘My Hometown’. Here are the lyrics to the song.
Lyrics to ‘My Hometown’ by Bruce Springsteen
I was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
Into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old manI’d sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through townHe’d tousle my hair and say son take a good look around this is your hometownThis is your hometownThis is your hometownThis is your hometown
In ’65 tension was running high at my high school
There was a lot of fights between the black and whiteThere was nothing you could doTwo cars at a light on a Saturday night in the back seat there was a gunWords were passed in a shotgun blastTroubled times had come to my hometownMy hometownMy hometownMy hometown
Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant storesSeems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no moreThey’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracksForeman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to your hometownYour hometownYour hometownYour hometown
Last night me and Kate we laid in bedtalking about getting outPacking up our bags maybe heading southI’m thirty-five we got a boy of our own nowLast night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son take a good look aroundThis is your hometown
Emma Lee and the Associated Press contributed to this story