Bruce and the Second Education

My friend Emma brings to my attention an editorial in today’s New York Times where David Brooks muses on the music of Bruce Springsteen as a cornerstone of his second, emotional rather than school-based, education.   Two paragraphs really resonated with me:

What mattered most, as with any artist, were the assumptions behind the stories. His tales take place in a distinct universe, a distinct map of reality. In Springsteen’s universe, life’s “losers” always retain their dignity. Their choices have immense moral consequences, and are seen on an epic and anthemic scale.


Last week, my kids attended their first Springsteen concert in Baltimore. At one point, I looked over at my 15-year-old daughter. She had her hands clapped to her cheeks and a look of slack-jawed, joyous astonishment on her face. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing — 10,000 people in a state of utter abandon, with Springsteen surrendering himself to them in the center of the arena.

It begins again.

I appreciate the first paragraph as a genuine and thoughtful interpretation of Bruce’s music–though one not completely in line with my own thoughts.   The second paragraph, however, is great simply by virtue of the fact that it captures the both the experience one has for the first time seeing the Boss and seeing others see him for the first time.  What was great though, was that with the last sentence it becomes clear that all the joy Brooks is expressing in the piece is really the joy in his belief that his daughter is now going to experience some version of his interactions with Bruce’s music.  Is it sometimes wrong for parents to want their children to follow in their footsteps?  Maybe, but not here.


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