This Historic Day In Music: Bruce Springsteen

Today is Bruce Springsteen’s 69th birthday.

He was born on September 23, 1949, in Freehold, New Jersey; the first child and only son of Douglas and Adele (Zirilli) Springsteen.

In commemorating this day, I extend to Bruce my best wishes and a word or two of thanks for all of the joy – the uncountable-and-still-accumulating moments of toe-tapping, head-bobbing, butt-kicking, ear-to-ear-smile-inducing, inhibition-tossing, dad-dancing, fist-pumping, singing-along-at-the-top-of-my-lungs-voice-shredding, heart-throbbing, soul-soaring, mind-melting, deeply-inspiring and absolutely-without-a-doubt-life-affirming joy – that his music, on record and in concert, has brought to my life.

Thanks, as well, for a great story.

On April 20, 2006, Bruce sat for a long talk with Dave Marsh, his biographer and old friend, on the mezzanine of the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Bruce was in town conducting rehearsals with his new group, The Seeger Sessions Band, who were scheduled to give their debut performance that evening at Convention Hall.

That conversation resulted in an eleven page article entitled “Will It Go Round In Circles?” in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue (#85) of Backstreets: The Boss Magazine.

Among the many topics they discussed was Bruce’s new album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, to be released by Columbia Records on April 24.

Bruce also told Dave the story of when his cousin Frank gave him his first guitar lesson.

I cobbled together a condensed version of Bruce’s story; something I could print in a medium size font on one side of a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and hang on the wall in my teaching studio.

Here it is.


Now, I’ve been teaching teenagers how to play the guitar for a very long time. Since as far back as I can remember, well before I read Bruce’s story in 2006, the first chord I’ve taught to every hopeful beginner has been the E minor chord.

Thanks again, Bruce, and Happy Birthday!

P.S.: Good job, Frank.

And now for some of that joy, or what Bruce called, “the sound of surprise and the pure joy of playing.”


The personnel on “Pay Me My Money Down” was:

  • Bruce Springsteen – Acoustic Guitar & Lead Vocals
  • Sam Bardfeld – Violin & Backing Vocals
  • Frank Bruno – Acoustic Guitar & Backing Vocals
  • Jeremy Chatzky – Upright Bass & Backing Vocals
  • Mark Clifford – Banjo & Backing Vocals
  • Larry Eagle – Drums & Backing Vocals
  • Charles Giordano – Accordion
  • Ed Manion – Saxophone & Backing Vocals
  • Mark Pender – Trumpet & Backing Vocals
  • Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg – Trombone & Backing Vocals
  • Patti Scialfa – Backing Vocals
  • Soozie Tyrell – Violin & Backing Vocals

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger SessionsAmerican Land Edition was released on October 3, 2006.

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 49th Grammy Awards on February 11, 2007.

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6 Responses to This Historic Day In Music: Bruce Springsteen

  1. Kathryn Klem says:

    Wow Eric… I really love this backstory on Bruce Springsteen. Also love that he is a fellow New Jersey native. Thank you for bringing more Bruce to the forefront here. I hope he’s had a great birthday. Thanks again for this very cool story.

    • Thanks, Kathryn! Can’t get too much Bruce! I hope you sang along with that great rendition of “Pay Me My Money Down.”

      • Kathryn Klem says:

        Yes actually, that was fun. I had never heard that one before. Thank you for sharing! And I have to say I really loved the post you have that you show first time music students. Very inspiring. The journey of music always starts with one note. And what a great journey to grow with and share, right? Amen.

  2. badfinger20 says:

    Thanks for sharing that story…The G chord was my magic chord that started it all. The B major open chord gave me the most trouble at the beginning.
    It’s nice to remember that all of these great artists started off like the rest of us. Springsteen was one of the few “Next Dylans” that panned out.

    • Thanks for checking out the post and sending your comment! Every guitar player, however great and famous they became, had to have started somewhere. F major was the hardest for me. As one of my students once said, “I know why they call it the F chord!” Couldn’t agree more.

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