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“I’m the President, but he’s the boss.”

That’s what Barack Obama said when he gave Bruce Springsteen his Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. When I heard this I welled up with pride.

Like Bruce, I grew up on the Jersey Shore. Throughout the ‘80s my aunts would play his albums over and over again, telling tall tales of marathon performances at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. I didn’t understand the excitement at the time and thought it was old people’s music.

In the early ‘90s I attended the same community college as The Boss (I graduated) and frequently surfed next to the very pier that inspired the song, 4th of July, Asbury Park.

In 2000 I moved to California, and eventually became homesick and tired of the lyric-less jam band scene that surrounded me. Turning to my roots, I found comfort in the following songs:

  • Spirit in the Night – a song about partying in the Pine Barrens
  • Backstreets – a song about friendship
  • Independence Day – a song about fathers and sons
  • Thunder Road/Born to Run – songs about getting out of small towns

Why am I telling you this? Well if you’re from New Jersey you often hear people refer to your state as the “Armpit of America.” Sure, even I roll up the windows when I drive down the Turnpike, but if you head south on the Parkway that industrial aroma fades and you end up at the Jersey Shore, home to arguably the best songwriter since Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. Click here for some artists who agree.

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