Today is my birthday but I never was much for celebrating it. Some people may argue that I have an issue with getting older and perhaps that’s true, although I’ve always thought that age is just a number and what really matters is how old you feel not what it says on a paper.
My problem is more that I don’t like to be in the centre of people’s attention. It makes me feel uneasy. I know that sounds weird coming from a teacher who’s job in many respects is to be in the centre of attention. Standing in front of a class presenting lessons in a comprehensive manner is a different kind of attention.
Familiar faces around me, laughter fills the air, your loving grace surrounds me , everybody’s here
Instead of throwing a birthday party for myself I prefer the kind of party that is described in the song Mary’s Place; a house party with friends [on the Jersey shore or elsewhere] in the summertime. Good friends gathered on the porch in odd furniture, beer, something nice to eat and the music turned up loud. I think there’s also a deeper metaphor in turning a down situation (here portrayed as rain in the summer time) into something positive. The love and care of friends and family can help a lot.
In concert Springsteen usually makes the lyrics: “familiar faces around me, laughter fills the air, your loving grace surrounds me, everybody’s here” to be about the fans. He stands close to the first row or in the middle of the crowd, touching the reaching hands from the fans as he sings, including everybody who’s there.
Mary’s Place was released on the album The Rising (2002) which is believed to be Springsteen’s reflections to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The story of how Springsteen got the inspiration for the album is a well known story/myth; A few days after the attacks a stranger in a car, supposedly, stopped next to Bruce Springsteen, rolled down his window and said: “We need you, Bruce”. The themes of the album are existential crisis and social uplift. The message being that life is precious and should be lived as such. It’s a way of making sense of the senseless. Mary’s Place is triumphant and celebratory in its musical mood and it’s working as a feel good track on the album and also for me personally.
Bruce has said about the song: “…all of a sudden people would feel like, hey, that’s your own pals putting their arms around you and you’ve got a place to go and somebody to talk to and be with. That’s kind of what our band has been for people and what we’ve wanted to be for people over the years. The song comes up at a particular place on the record, it’s that open-arms-of-home feeling.” Bruce Springsteen (980)
So what do you say? Will you meet me at Mary’s Place? We’re gonna have a party!
“Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up, turn it up, turn it up, turn it up, turn it up…”
Photo cred? please enlighten me