No other artist inspires you to go on a coast-to-coast road trip more than Bruce Springsteen, an American icon and Grammy-winning rock star, one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all times. I’ve been a fan since the age of 13, been to 12 of his concerts worldwide, and there’s no better storyteller than The Boss.
If you want him to work his magic on you, catch his solo acoustic show under the lights of Broadway (if you’re still not sure about flying in times of corona, there’s also Netflix), and you’re in for an intimate night with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and his stories. The show is back on stage from June 26 through September 4 and takes you on a journey through some of the milestones in Springsteen’s life.
We thought this was a great opportunity to take you on a little road trip through some of the best destinations mentioned in Springsteen’s lyrics. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
With its famous boardwalk (also featured in The Sopranos), this small New Jersey town is where Bruce spent his formative years as a young artist, and while you’re here, stop by the Stone Pony, a rock club where Bruce and other musicians started their careers. Since the town’s revival in recent years, it has earned the nickname Brooklyn on the Beach and is known for many festivals and a live music scene.
Still in New Jersey, his home state, let’s skip to the largest city on the (in)famous Jersey Shore, Las Vegas of the East Coast, where you can try your luck in the casinos or stroll on the atmospheric boardwalk. “Gonna be a rumble out on the promenade,” says Bruce in his song, so “Put your make-up on, fix your hair up pretty / And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”
Streets of Philadelphia
The neighboring state of Pennsylvania is another one of Springsteen’s haunts, and he used to play a lot in Philadelphia in his early years. So when Jonathan Demme asked him to write the theme song of the eponymous movie, Bruce wrote Streets of Philadelphia and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The charming city is packed with street art, tons of great eateries, and several historic sites. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Rocky ran up the stairs, has a massive collection of art, and Independence Historical National Park is where the U.S. government was born.
Badlands, a Terrence Malick movie from 1973, a true story about a couple’s brutal and senseless killing spree, inspired the gloomy song Nebraska. Bruce sings, “From the town of Lincoln, Nebraska, with a sawed-off .410 on my lap / Through to the badlands of Wyoming, I killed everything in my path.”
A ride from Nebraska to Wyoming is what road trips are all about, just don’t get yourselves into trouble. Driving through the open prairies and following in the footsteps of dinosaurs in Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, attending the Nebraska star party, and of course, visiting the great national parks – Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and more – are epic Springsteen moments.
Speaking of Badlands, another famous Springsteen anthem, the son is more of a metaphor for the struggle to make ends meet than a song about Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Still, it is well worth driving the 40-mile Loop Rd to check out incredible cliffs and bighorn sheep, then take on one of the impressive hiking trails.
The Promised Land
While you’re in the heart of America, you can also explore the “rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert” from the much more optimistic Promised Land, and don’t forget to visit Moab, Uta’s adventure capital and a paradise for hiking, biking, white water rafting, and more.
This song is the embodiment of a road trip anthem, and Cadillac Ranch itself is a massive open-air sculpture off I-40, close to Amarillo, Texas, made up of ten wildly colored Cadillacs half-buried in the sand. The site is continuously evolving, as visitors add scribbles and colors to the cars, so you can join the action and bring some spray paint to leave your mark.
We’ve reached the West Coast and San Diego, and in Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), we get to “know a pretty little place in Southern California down San Diego way / There’s a little café where they play guitars all night and all day.”
In another song, the beautiful attraction-filled and manicured Balboa Park becomes a night-time hunting ground, “Where the men in their Mercedes / Come nightly to employ / In the cool San Diego evening / The services of the border boys.” However, don’t let that deter you from the world-famous zoo and other cultural venues in the postcard-worthy park.
Other must-see attractions in the laid-back SoCal city are the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado Island, and Seaport Village.
There’s no one quite like Bruce in weaving a story so beautifully that in a span of four minutes, he draws you into a cinematic world rich in detail and emotion. He is the perfect companion on a road trip to the real, gritty, blue-collar America.
David (Dudi) Bitton is a die-hard fan and co-manager of the Springsteen fan club in Israel, and you can find him on his Facebook group, Lucky Town.