Friday, May 08, 2009

Jersey Girl

I used to hang out on the Jersey shore. Not that much, and I certainly can't claim any sort of ancestral affinity for the place, or any sort of historical roots. But for about a decade there, when I worked at AT&T Bell Labs, I spent a lot of time in central Jersey -- Red Bank, Freehold, Long Branch, Holmdel, Asbury Park -- and after work my co-workers and I would wander the beach, watch the old Italian guys play bocci, and scour the boardwalk looking for a decent seafood restaurant. This was, of course, back in the days when companies still employed people.

Thanks in no small part to Bruce Springsteen, the place has always had a romantic appeal for me. Bruce immortalized the dingy bars and seedy arcades on albums such as Greetings from Asbury Park and The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. I never took part in the life on and under the boardwalk, but I did, for a while, date a barefoot Jersey girl who drank warm beer while sitting on the hood of a Dodge, and I've been inside the Stone Pony, where Bruce got his start, so I've always claimed honorary residency. It's a mythic place, at least in song. The reality is probably somewhat different. As far as I know, Lucent Technologies, formerly AT&T Bell Labs, has laid off most of its staff, so there couldn't be that many corporate beachcombers strolling the boardwalk these days. It was all a long time ago.

But it comes back when I listen to Tom Waits' great song "Jersey Girl." Unfortunately, there's no good YouTube version of Tom singing his song, but Bruce Springsteen isn't a bad consolation prize. Here's Bruce conducting a choir of 20,000.

Down the shore everything's alright.
You're with your baby on a Saturday night.

I just found out that the job opportunity I'd pinned my hopes on -- the one I've been holding out for, hoping and praying that it might become a reality -- has been eliminated due to budget cuts. So I could use a strong dose of good, old-fashioned romantic hope today. Sha la la la la la sha la la la.


Peter Niswander said...

"Meet me tonight in atlantic city..."

You are in my prayers Andy.

anchors said...

I don't know if you've listened to any of The Gaslight Anthem Andy, but I would be interested in what you thought.