Working On A Dream

February 2nd, 2009

springsteen.jpgEvery morning, I walk to work swaddled in headphones.

At worst, headphones protect me from the bombast of New York City: horns, sirens, jets and helicopters.

At best, though, they deliver me effortlessly to my corporate doorstep.

On Friday, those headphones were blaring Bruce Springsteen’s latest title track, “Working On A Dream.”

I’m not quite sure when it happened, or, for that matter, how or why. But my musical tastes have suddenly become remarkably and unapologetically staid: U2, REM and Bruce Springsteen. I’m glad for The Hold Steady. I appreciate Fleet Foxes. But give me the pros.

Bruce’s new record (which I was looking forward to only slightly less than U2’s) picks up where “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” left off. It’s lush, layered and textured. It’s Phil Spector and Brian Wilson run through Studs Terkel, Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac.

Friday morning, then, found me tucked deep inside my pea coat braced against the winter chill. A short week’s worth of slush-strewn, budget-slashed twelve-hour days had me feeling pretty defeated. Bruce, though, helped me stand up straighter.

Now the cards I’ve drawn’s a rough hand, darlin’
I straighten my back and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

I passed through the building’s shadows with goosebumps. This was my song, I thought. Leadership, adulthood, fatherhood, I thought; these are my dreams. I slid through the revolving doors, climbed the stairs, and finished the week.

* * *

I love beer, but I’m not much for football. The big draw for Super Bowl Sunday, then, was The Boss. And so, as the two-minute warning sounded, I scrambled for the the remote. Not only was Bruce due to perform, and not only had The Nadas sent me their latest single, “Bitter Love,” but my pal, Chris Abad, had hand-delivered rough mixes from his forthcoming LP.

Bruce delivered.

The Nadas soared.

And with new keyboards, layers and harmonies, Chris took his live performances to new, richer places.

* * *

In a few hours, I’ll kiss Abbi before she wakes, take a car to JFK, and board American Airlines #10 bound for Los Angeles. Thirty-six hours later, I’ll return.

The entire enterprise would be jarring, disorienting a just a little bit heartbreaking were it not for the knowledge that, in my own little way, I’m working on a dream.

Sunrise come, I climb the ladder
The new day breaks and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

Goosebumps, harmonies, amplifiers or not, we work on our dream. Song by song, mile by mile, day by day, we find our way through the bombast.