Stu News and Photos

My name is Stu and I am here to share what I can.

Many years ago, too many for me to even want to consider, I was in high school. Sixteen years old and barely aware of what was possible in the world, cocooned in suburbia, adrift in my sheltered sea. The music I was listening to was on WPLJ (named after Frank Zappa's cover of a Four Deuces song) and WNEW, but even this Album-Oriented Rock was fairly new to me. You see, I was weaned on big band singers and, later, pop music, bubblegum of a severely limited variety of flavor. AM radio staples acted as my sonic wallpaper as I listened to the same sticky-sweet songs over and over, barely conscious of their meaning, or lack thereof. But I was new to teenager-dom and just didn't know any better. Eventually my brother had had enough and pulled me into his room one day, some time after my thirteenth birthday, and told me to stop listening to AM, that there was glory on the other side, the FM side. He pointed to his bedside table, where Blondie's "Heart Of Glass" was playing on his white clock radio and he said, "Listen, this is where it's at."

He was right.

A few years later, during the summer of my sixteenth year, my brother got married, and he gave me the honor of being his best man. Apparently there was work involved (including paying the judge, which my brother Ralph pointed out to me on that memorable day). As a reward, as a gift, my brother gave me three record albums, music that was important to him, close to his soul. The records were Tom Petty's "Damn The Torpedoes," Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," and Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run."

Later that summer, i immersed myself in these three albums, soaking in them, unraveling them, absorbing them. At first I did this because I missed my brother and because he had opened his heart to me. But then the albums started to reveal themselves to me, the magic unfolding like the slow bloom of adolescence. "Born To Run" took turns dancing with my dreams and tearing at my heart. The mixture of piano and saxophone, the warrior tones of the bass and drums, and the sincerity and depth of the poetry, all mixed together as though written just for me, a letter from Bruce to Stu, letting me know what life had in store for me, giving me great comfort and camaraderie.

I'll never forget that summer, nor the music of Bruce Springsteen and what it meant to me at that time in my life, and what it meant to me for years afterwards. Today is Mr. Springsteen's 60th birthday and I raise a glass to him, and to my brother Dave, who shared with me his heart.


David said...
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David said...

First off, what a great post. Thanks so much for this memory. I love your writing!!!

And I did not know that WPLJ connected to FrankZ. Very cool... :)

-- Dave

dad said...

I read your post and I cried. Not sad tears but tears of joy and warmth. The joy of your writing and the warmth of the love for your brother. You made an old man very happy.

By the way, what is wrong with "The Big Band Sound"

Suldog said...

Nothing quite like the revered artists of our youth, no matter when that youth may have been. Nice post.