It's not cool to like Bruce. People feel embarrassed about seeing a macho man show emotion
Saturday 17 August 1996
It's not been the best week. I can't sleep and everyone hates me and I'm still not Elizabeth Taylor in 1956. The last bit is the worst. Because sometimes, I almost convince myself that I am. Or I forget that I'm not. And then I catch sight of my reflection in the halogen-speared ladies' room of the pub. And I look like a crazy lady. "Wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face!" So now I want to be Bruce Springsteen. It takes less lipstick. It's easier to live "Born to Run" than "Suddenly, Last Summer".
Richard agrees. He's a musician I became mates with because ... he loves Bruce too. This is actually a bigger deal than it sounds because, in modern pop, you're allowed to have about three reference points: The Jam, The Beatles and Madness. That's to say, we're all for working class icons, so long as they're either a) lad rock; b) experimental and sterile; c) jokey. It is not cool to like Bruce. People feel deeply embarrassed about seeing a macho man show that much emotion. It's like watching your father cry. Pop insiders don't approve of anyone who gives that much, who doesn't stand stock still at the microphone, with his hands behind his back, who doesn't in lieu of talent grasp aimlessly at irony.
Richard is older than me, with a family and a real life. But we meet up for a drink now and then and have our little Bruce time before he heads back to the studio and tries to persuade his band to do a cover of "Candy's Room". Today he is on a mission. He must have a jacket like Springsteen's on the cover of Darkness on the Edge of Town. By the end of the day, I swear he has tried on every black leather jacket in London, and still he finds nothing "tough" enough. I get cranky and need to eat, but don't want to stray off the Bruce theme, so we go to the Hard Rock Cafe, where we sit under the platinum disc of "Born in the USA". The waitresses at the Hard Rock are like the air stewardesses on TWA. Middle-aged and stressed, with sore feet and high hair.
As our waitress slams down my Coke, I tell Richard about the time I interviewed Jon Bon Jovi and found myself asking, as my third question, "Hey, you know Bruce Springsteen, don't you? He'd like me, wouldn't he?" Jon Bon looked at me strangely. "No ,I don't think he'd like you at all. I think you'd scare him."
Richard encourages me, and by the time I get home, I am a woman obsessed. Bruce likes red heads? Guess who leans over the tub and dyes their hair? Grace yells that if she has to hear 30 seconds more of "Thunder Road", she will be physically sick. It is at this point that not only must I meet him, but I must also be him. Dad is still hard at work when I pop into the office with the sleeve of Darkness on the Edge of Town to ask if he thinks I look like Bruce. "Yes, a lot. Look: you've both got two eyes and a nose and a mouth. What's wrong with your hair?"
I meet the girls for a few drinks, but that night worse than ever, I really can't sleep. Road workers are doing a little midnight mending outside my window. I watch them for a while. I have a bath, I read a book, I resolve to sit in bed and stare at the ceiling. Then the door bell rings. The screech of the bell ringing always scares me, even in the middle of the day. I creep down the stairs, wrapping my dressing-gown tight around me. Through the intercom I hear his growl. I lean out of the window and see Bruce on his Harley. The road workers are staring but he just calls up to me: "Fix yourself up pretty, come down here and get on that bike, girl. I saw you in the crowd at Brixton and I had to come for you. But you knew I would, didn't you baby? We're going down to the river". And we go.
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