4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) - click for .mp3
Somewhere in the middle of nowhere - outside of Salina, Kansas - I pulled up to one of those antiquated motel and bar combos. It was already dark and I’d been driving all day and all I wanted was a shot, a beer and a bed.
I forget the exact name of the bar, but it was one of those ones that make’s a big deal out of the fact that it’s got a woman’s name in front: KATHY’s Roadhouse or JANE’s Empty Bottle - you know the kind. Everything is wood-paneled and the Christmas lights don’t come down from the ceiling when the New Year comes.
Nobody really talks in these kind of places. They just listen to the music and push their drinks back and forth between their hands on the condensation slick bar.
It’s always only the drunk making noise. Yelling at the bartender, pinching asses, collecting quarters for the jukebox.
The one here was probably 50, with the kind of cheap and amazing haircut you can only get in a state with more miles of country roads than people.
He was leaning hard on the edge of the jukebox like some paunchy Fonzi when I walked in, thumbing the button and making the racks of albums flip back and forth.
He turned to me:
"Tonight is Springsteen night!"
and then (and this completely floored me:)
"Fuck Walt Whitman. Springsteen is the new Whitman. This is America, man."
and then he played this song.
It was December 6th, almost as far away as you can get from the 4th of July and as far away as you can get from a heat-warped boardwalk on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
But it was still perfect.