Born to Run was the first rock and roll song I ever heard, but it’s important to define our terms, particularly the phrase “rock and roll” and the word “heard.” Rock and roll is a big beautiful mess of a thing, a Chuck Berry guitar, a Janis Joplin screech, a Bono cry, a Ronnettes groove, Buddy Holly’s glasses, Joan Jett’s leather, Abbey Road, Clapton is God, grapevines, stairways, rings of fire, pinball wizards, mosquitos and libidos, rolling stones both upper and lower case, an Elvis swivel, a Beach Boys fog, a Jerry Lee Lewis piano, white albums, yellow submarines, purple hazes, a Bob Dylan stream of consciousness, a Smokey Robinson miracle, an Eddie Vedder rumble, a Keith Moon solo, a James Brown walk, Aretha spelling and Jimi Hendrix kissing the sky.
Well, you might remember — and “might” is the key word since I did this a long time ago — I put up a survey asking people to vote for their favorite Bruce Springsteen songs so that we could start the Bruce Song Hall of Fame. This was a two step process. In the first step, I asked people to nominate songs which led to all sorts of mayhem where songs like “I Hate Bruce Springsteen” and “Jack Morris” were nominated. But about a thousand people participated and I put together a list of the 30 most mentioned Springsteen songs.
The second part involved people voting for their 10 favorite songs on the list, in order. More than 2,000 people voted. I have calculated the results using the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers or, anyway, my own meager math skills — 10 points for every first place vote, nine points for every second-place vote, eight points for every third place vote and so on.
And so… without further delay … here in the first class of songs to be inducted into the Bruce Springsteen Hall of Fame. Induction day date and ceremonies will be announced in the future.
OK, time for a sad admission: There are fewer and fewer things exciting enough to get me out of the house these days. I suppose this comes down to age, it comes down to inertia, it comes down to this incredibly lucky life I’ve lived. I just attended my 22nd Masters in Augusta. Twenty-two Masters! That’s crazy. I’ve been to more Masters than Tiger Woods. I’ve been to as many Masters as Phil Mickelson. That’s kind of insane.*
*The only place my 22 Masters is unimpressive is at the Masters itself, where it seems like every other writer is on their 50th … or 60th … or 593rd. There are several writers covering the Masters who were there when Bobby Jones was surveying the land.
I promise the point here is not to brag or even humblebrag about the events I’ve attended, but it is true I’ve now reached 20 or so on most of the big ones — 20-plus Super Bowls, 20-plus World Series and so on. This lucky life has taken me to dozens of Final Fours and National Championship games and U.S. Opens (golf and tennis) and NBA playoff games and NHL playoff games. World Cups. Ryder Cups. Olympics. I’ve seen games at every single Major League Baseball stadium (I’ll come up with a stadium ranking shortly) and every NFL stadium too. I’ve covered sports on six continents. The 12-year-old in me remains stupefied at this charmed existence.
OK … time for Phase Two of our Bruce Springsteen song Hall of Fame. The voting.
About 1,000 people wrote in their Top 5 Springsteen songs — and I thank all of you, even those who voted for “Bruce Sucks” and “Jack Morris.” Just as an FYI, 203 different Springsteen songs were named, which is kind of ridiculous.
Now, I picked the top 27 of them (don’t ask) and it’s time to vote.
The cool part, I think, is that you don’t just vote for your 10 favorites, I’m asking you to rank them in order. As I’ve written before, I wish the Baseball Hall of Fame would do this. I think we would get more interesting voting that better reflects the feelings of the voters. I’m willing to bet the BBWAA and Baseball Hall of Fame won’t take me up on that. But the Bruce Song Hall of Fame will.
Coming very soon: A long look at the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
In the meantime, if you feel like it, I might just start a Bruce Springsteen Song Hall of Fame. You can begin the voting process here.
And the question of who Jack Morris equals can go in the comments. “Mary’s Place” is my early choice.
Johnny works in a factory. Billy works downtown.
Terry works in a rock and roll band looking for that million dollar sound.
Got a job down in Darlington. Some nights I don’t go.
Some nights I go to the drive in. Some night I stay home.
— Bruce Springsteen. The Promise.
Funny thing, I’m pretty sure I had never heard of Bruce Springsteen before “Born in the USA” came out. In fact, I think the first time I became aware of Springsteen was when he did the “Dancing in the Dark” video, and pulled the oh-so-excellent-looking Courtney Cox on the stage. And then next time I noticed him was was when he did the “Glory Days” video, and I still cannot stand that song. Speedball, indeed.