Story 2008-05-04 Newark, NJ

Bruce inducts Frank Sinatra to the New Jersey Hall of Fame:
“I always said that Frank Sinatra owned New Jersey but he lent me a little piece of it down along the shore.
My wife was in a beauty salon in Los Angeles, and she met a woman who invited us to a party. We went to the party, and I was standing there and I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I turned around and there was Frank Sinatra. He had a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand, and he lifted it up and said, “Hey, it’s about time, kid!” We talked for about a half-hour about Hoboken and the Jersey Shore. It was a big thrill. A big, big thrill in my life.
There are only a few artists whose work transcends genre and ascends to a level of national poetry. Frank Sinatra stands high among them. When I hear Frank, I hear America – but more than that, I hear New Jersey. It’s the voice with the chip on its shoulder. No matter how much good fortune, the perennial underdog, and the deep soul of hard times, and plenty of good times, and sexy times.
I got to know Mr. Sinatra a little bit towards the end of his life, and I was present at his funeral where, as Franks’ voice filled the church, I saw Don Rickles cry. As the mourners filed out I stood on the steps of the church. Now, the area around the church was serene and secure, but immediately across the street all hell was breaking loose. It was a scene out of Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust. I felt somebody standing next to me, and I turned to see Jack Nicholson, from Neptune. He lit a cigarette, shrugged his shoulders and said, “King of New Jersey.”
To accept the award for Frank Sinatra, the King of New Jersey: Nancy Sinatra and his granddaughter A.J Lambert.”

Bruce’s acceptance speech:
“When I first got the letter I was to be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, I was a little suspicious. A New Jersey Hall of Fame? I don’t know, does New York have a Hall of Fame? Does Connecticut have a Hall of Fame? I mean, maybe they don’t think they need one.
But then I thought, well, let me see: Albert Einstein, Bruce Springsteen…My mother’s really going to like that part. She’s here tonight. It’s her birthday, so there you go, Mom. It’s the only time those two names are going to be mentioned in the same sentence, so I’m going to enjoy it.
When I was recording my first album, the record company spent a lot of money taking a lot of pictures of me in New York City. But something didn’t feel quite right. I was walking down the boardwalk one day, stopped at a souvenir stand and pulled out a postcard that said “Greetings from Asbury Park.” I remember thinking, “Yeah, that’s me.” Down south there was Patti Smith; right here in Newark was George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, great musicians.
With the exception of a few half-years in California, my family and I have raised our kids here. We have a big Italian-Irish family, and I found my own Jersey girl here – thank you, Patti! In the end, I just found something deeply resonant in holding the hands of my kids on the same streets where my mom held my hand, swimming in the same ocean and taking them to visit the same beaches I did as a child. It was also a place that really protected me. It’s been very nurturing. I could take my kids down to Freehold, throw them up on my shoulders and walk along the street with thousands of other people on Kruise Night with everybody just going, “Hey Bruce…” That was something that meant a lot to me, the ability to just go about my life. I was protected here, by the people here. And I really appreciated that.
You get a little older now, and you get those crisp fall days that come in September and the beginning of October. My friends and I, we slip into the cool water of that Atlantic Ocean. These days, you take note that there’s a few less of your friends swimming alongside of you as each year passes. But something about being in one place your whole life: they’re all still around you in the water. I look towards the shore and I see my two sons and my daughter pushing their way through the waves. And on the beach there’s a whole batch of new little kids running away from the crashing surf… like time itself.
That’s what New Jersey is for me. It’s a repository of time on earth. My memory, the music I’ve made, my friendships, my life…It’s all buried here in a box somewhere in the sand down on the Jersey Shore. I can’t imagine having it any other way.
Let me finish with a Garden State benediction. Rise up my fellow New Jerseyans, for we are all members of a confused but noble race. We, of the state that will never get any respect. We, who bear the coolness of the forever uncool. The chip on the shoulders of those with forever something to prove. And even with this wonderful Hall of Fame, we know that there’s another bad Jersey joke just around the corner.
But fear not! Fear not! This is not our curse, it is our blessing. For this is what imbues us with our fighting spirit. That we may salute the world forever with the fabulous Jersey state bird, and that the fumes from our great northern industrial area to the ocean breezes of Cape May fill us with the raw hunger, the naked ambition and the desire not just to do our best, but to stick it in your face. Theory of relativity anybody? How about some electric light with your day? Or maybe a spin to the moon and back? That’s right. And that is why our fellow Americans in the other 49 states know that when the announcer says, “And now, in this corner, from New Jersey…” they better keep their hands up and their heads down, because when that bell rings, we always come out swinging.
Thank you, friends, family…God bless the Garden State!”

[Copied from Backstreets Magazine, Issue 88.]

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