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Surfing The Springsteen Way

Jun 16

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6/16/2009  RssIcon

With the Boss due to play Ireland this summer, SOUND WAVES looks briefly at some [reasonably] relevant connections that Bruce has with surfing culture.

Although Bruce Springsteen’s songs tend to focus on highways, as Prefab Sprout slyly observed in their song ‘Cars and Girls’, it is a little known fact that in 1967 The Boss tried his hand at surfing in New Jersey.

According to his lifelong friend and band mate Steve Van Zandt however, Bruce did not have as much success with wave riding as he did with guitar playing. In an interview with, Van Zandt’s opined that it was a bizarre hobby for Bruce to choose as surfing wasn’t cool in New Jersey at that time, “So we went to the beach so he could demonstrate it to me. He goes out. First wave, he gets up on it, falls off it, surfboard comes up and knocks out his front teeth. He comes in dragging the board, bleeding like he's had his throat cut. I told him I'd take a rain check on it."

In 2007, New Jersey blogger Paul Mulshine posted the following on his NJ Voices blog, “I was out at my favorite surf spot the other day....I was surprised to see Springsteen out there. He was ripping it up on a longboard. It's rare to see a local hero like that in the lineup.”

Notwithstanding Springsteen’s various forays into surfing, it is possible to embark on a surf quest from the East Coast of the United States down to Mexico stopping only at surf spots drawn from the titles of some of Bruce Springsteen’s songs. No less than five of Springsteen’s finest narrative ballads are set in places which boast surf spots of a reasonable quality.

Song #1: 4th of July, Ashbury Park (Sandy)
Surf Spot #1: Ashbury Park, NJ

Song #2: Atlantic City
Surf Spot #2: Atlantic City, NJ

Song #3: Galveston Bay
Surf Spot #3: Galveston Bay, TX

Song #4: Balboa Park
Surf Spot #4: Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Song #5: Sinaloa Cowboys
Surf Spot #5: Sinaloa, Mexico

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