Posted by TheYank at 10/19/2009 8:01 AM EDT
A week ago or so I mentioned my first trip to Ireland back in 1985. This week's news that Bruce Springsteen is Irish is another reminder of that trip to Ireland. Why? Because my first trip to Ireland coincided with Bruce's.
I can still remember clearly walking around Dublin on the morning of the show. I was on my own as Tom & I had split up for a few days. I was due at my Aunt's house that evening. I was eating a sandwich in some coffee shop in the center of the city and I got talking to some guy about my age. He asked me if I was going to see Bruce at Slane later that evening.
I don't think I was even aware that Bruce was in Ireland at the time. He said he could get me a ticket and the bus to the show would cost me £25 (less than $25 at the time). I was tempted, but after a brief pause I said, 'No.' I thought it would be too rude to my Aunt, who, after all, I didn't exactly see all that often.
So I passed up the chance. Later on when I got to my Aunt's house she was surprised to see me. Her first words were, "Oh. I thought you'd have gone to Slane. I'd love to have gone." She meant it.
I quickly recognized that my Aunt would have thought I was insane if I'd told her that I opted to spend time with her and her four young children (oldest was 7) rather than with 60,000 other people my age, including my wife who I didn't know yet, enjoying a great night of music and revelry on a a beautiful summer's evening. I kept the ticket offer to myself, although I think I told her later.
The next day I went to a Gaelic football game in Meath and there were a lot of kids my age there still signing and dancing while watching a pretty dull affair on the playing field. I remember how weird it was listening to them singing "Born in the USA" with their Irish accents.
Now, with hindsight, it doesn't seem as strange now as it did at the time. In 1985 he told the crowd at Slane that his grandmother was from Ireland, which may not have been accurate. It seems she was born in the USA. But she was Irish too. Similarly, Bruce's fans here are Irish, but 'born in the USA' too. So many of their hopes and dreams are fired by America, its culture and its appeal as the land of opportunity that spiritually everyone here is at least partially 'born in the USA.'
Although I passed on the Slane show I've seen Bruce four or five times here and he always mentions his Irish roots. Bruce knew he was Irish and didn't hide it. He always seems quite proud of it.
Irish people love Bruce and recognize that his songs are about them as much as they're about anyone from New Jersey or Oklahoma or Arizona, which makes this week's 'news' was hardly news at all.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore