During the summer of 1985, I was 14 and asked to work with a family friend as she was renovating her home. Every morning she had to put some music on. The first record to hit the turntable was Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.
Before I had heard the first notes of “Thunder Road” my music taste was all over the place. Top 40 hits were part of my mix tapes. My brother, who listened to the likes of Devo, B-52s, The Kinks and Billy Idol, had influenced me somewhat. I loved music in general, but nothing in particular.
Once “Thunder Road” came on my love for Bruce’s songs began to grow. Every morning music blasted through the speakers and Bruce was the only artist played. By the end of the summer I was hooked. Since then I have been to 17 shows…I know that is nothing compared to most of the E-Street Nation. Still, Bruce and the E Street Band are part of me and have been an influence on me for 30 years.
Fast forward to 2002, when I am married to Janine, we have one child Jordan, and are pregnant with our second. During the pregnancy we found out we were having a boy and started thinking about names. Jordan’s name was decided a long time ago. When Janine and I were dating we had decided if we married and had kids, our first child, boy or girl, would be named Jordan.
With our son I had an opportunity to tie his name to Bruce’s music, to one of the characters he makes come alive in his music. I listened to every song but kept striking out. Bad Scooter…no. Spanish Johnny…no. Weak-Kneed Willie, Jack the Rabbit, Big Bones Billie…no, no, and no. Finally, it hit me. It was not a character in a song I should be looking for, it was the title of a song. “The River.” River Kupersmith had such a wonderful ring to it.
At least until I shared my excitement with my wife. “River? Really Kupe. So what’s going to happen when our kids are outside and you have to call them in? ‘Jordan…River, it’s time for dinner. River…Jordan wake up, it’s time for school.’” Janine quickly made me realize the combination just didn’t work. If we chose this path, we would be compelled to name or next child Mississippi or Nile. After a few weeks of believing our son would go nameless, it hit me. Bruce’s son’s name is Evan. How about Evan? Evan in Hebrew means “rock” and Janine was all over it. Whew!
In January 2003, our rock, Evan was born. As usual I always had Bruce music playing. My kids really had no choice but be a fan of the Boss. Evan really took to the music and since birth he has loved Bruce. When he turned 9 and Bruce came through Atlanta during the Wrecking Ball tour I decided it was time for him to see a show and forever cement Bruce and the E Street Band as his all-time favorite. Our tickets were the last seats in the last row in Philips arena. We watched most of the concert on the big screen since it was difficult to see Bruce without some form of assistance. We didn’t care. It was an awesome experience…one we will never forget: His first show, and my first show with him.
2 years later, Bruce was touring again for the High Hopes album. There was no doubt we would go. On the morning the tickets went on sale, Evan and I had three computers up in our attempt to get great seats. 2 minutes after 10am one computer shows I have 2 lawn seats, which were in the back of the venue. Do I want to purchase them? In my head I’m saying, “Oh man, another concert in the back.” Luckily I delayed, and the second computer flashed up 2 general admission pit passes. We could not contain our joy. 2 seats in the pit with the chance to get up close and personal with Bruce. I had to calm down so I could finish the purchase.
The 2.5 month wait for the show was well worth it. What happened during the show was pretty amazing. Evan and I got there really early trying to make sure we had a good chance of being right up on the stage. Once they let us in, we settled on a spot between Nils and Patti about 5 people deep, not at the stage in front of Bruce… still, really close. At one point during the show people in front of us let Evan slide up. He stood at the stage right in front of Patti. Evan had a hat on covering his red hair. I yelled to Evan to take his hat off. Maybe Patti, who also has red hair, would see him, be so excited, and pull him up on stage. Maybe that was a silly thought…An 11 year boy being seen in a sea of people by someone who is trying to play was a long shot.
I shouldn’t have banked on Patti. I was totally missing where the connection would be that night. It was with Bruce.
During the show, Bruce kept saying “I’m in a River kind of mood,” and played songs from the River over and over. Before each song he would exclaim “The River! The River! The River!” When he said it and played another song it was like he knew he was feeling the River, but did not know where it was coming from. He played more River songs than any other concert I had been to and maybe the most since he was touring during that album.
Even though Evan was up close to the stage, Patti never saw him, and he did not make it up on stage. It’s probably best because my phone died and I would not have been able to capture the moment anyway!
The concert ended and the band started to file off the stage. One by one, each band member got a pat on the back from Bruce and they disappeared off stage. After the last band member left, Bruce turned to the crowd for one last wave. Before he disappeared to join the band he locked eyes with Evan and pointed right at him.
I’m not sure Bruce realized it, but I’d be willing to bet it was because of Evan, almost named River, that he was in a River kind of mood. If that’s not a sign that Evan’s name should have been River I don’t know what is. Maybe I’ll petition my wife to have Evan’s name changed.
Hmm… Better yet, maybe I’ll just remember the moment and the connection with my son, Evan.
Kupe Kupersmith, President, B2T Training, possesses over 14 years of experience in the business analysis profession. He has served as the lead Business Analyst and Project Manager on projects in the utility, television and sports management and marketing industries. Kupe is a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) through the IIBA. Kupe is a trained improvisational actor and performed for years in clubs around Atlanta. He is a big believer that we can work and learn while having fun. Kupe is a connector and has a goal in life to meet everyone!