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Did Bruce Springsteen grow artistically from bad parenting?

Here’s the real question: Did growing up with a dad who smoked ’em when he had ’em, and worked a six pack in the dark, make Bruce Springsteen who is today?

His old man was hooked on Camels, or Marlboro’s, or Winstons,  and liked to cool them down with a cold one?

Smoking and drinking at home isn’t a sin, but using it as a warm up before working your kid might be.

Could you do it?

I couldn’t do it, even if I looked into a crystal ball and saw the results.

Call me Boomer Soft, but call The Boss one in ten million.

Here’s why:

Look around today and count how many angry, pinch-faced, men there are screaming about a better life, a great America.

If they could play and sing a decent song, they might be on stage. Instead they stand in the audience listening to an abusive man on stage ‘telling it like it is.’

Would Bruce’s dad, Mr. Springsteen, stand in that audience?

He might fit the profile if the rest of them warmed up with six packs and cigarettes in the dark.

Dads who bully their kids, run them down instead of build them up, who belittle and denigrate and (pick your own,) don’t always end up with a universal icon who travels the world spreading the word in song.

Dads who put their kids down to exercise their own self esteem need a better outlet.

What did Bruce’s dad say?

Growing up in an Oregon mill town is an advantage; more than a few people heard variations on a familiar theme: “You’re no good and you ruined my family.”

What did Bruce Springsteen hear from his dad?

“I don’t like your friends coming around my house. Look at them, a bunch of scrawny nobodies growing up to be losers like you will.”

If that doesn’t boost your rocket to stardom, nothing will.

bruce springsteen

Mom and Dad Springsteen. image via

“Your mommie rented you a guitar? She pays good money for you so you can sit in your room with your friends? Better to save the money, or spend it on better beer and better cigarettes. Instead I’m drinking this crap and listening to your crap? When do you turn eighteen, son?”

The clock is always running in the mean house. You win a prize for turning eighteen. The prize is getting kicked out.

“You know why your mom and I have two daughters and one son? Because we made a mistake. Two sons would be two mistakes, and I can’t take one.”

Bruce is probably lucky his dad stopped at one six pack, that he stayed off the hard stuff. Then we wouldn’t have the Bruce we know.

bruce springsteen

Bruce and Dad. Image via

“What’s the point, Bruce. You’re a kid from Freehold. You think a Bob Dylan comes from a place like this? You think Woodie Guthrie called home to here? They had dreams and worked to make them happen. All you do is play a guitar and write songs. You think you’ll win a Nobel Prize? Or are you looking for place on Broadway? My son the theater star. Where’s your tutu.”

The difference between one spew of hate and another depends on the listener. You’ve got to know the difference.

Listening to Bruce makes me wonder how Johnny Rotten and his Sex Pistol bandmates grew up. Did they have the advantage of a mean spirited dad?

Those who worship at the alter of Bruce hear him talk about his dad in songs, even when he’s not talking about his dad.

Instead of spinning down the drain of blame someone else, Bruce took to Rock and Roll with a vengeance.

He channeled all the dad stuff into work that helps us understand how to live, a body of work that maps our way.

How did he do it? He saw his own future in his dad, and chose another.

bruce springsteen

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About David Gillaspie


  1. David, There seems to be a darkness in your recent posts. Careful what path you go down.

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