One of the questions in my 7-Question Springsteen Fan Survey asked respondents:
Why Bruce Springsteen? That is, what is it about Bruce Springsteen (the man and/or his music) that makes you a Springsteen fan. Please limit your response to 1500 characters. If you prefer, you may answer in a language other than English.
After completing that question, respondents were asked to choose if they wanted their response donated to the Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection. I’m excited to announce that this evening I emailed Melanie Paggioli, Executive Director of the Friends, a document containing 549 responses to the question (178 respondents declined to have their response donated). The responses total 231,308 characters (without spaces), 54,609 words, 3,450 lines, over 85 pages. In other words, this is a robust contribution composed by fans.
According to their web site, “The Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection is a ‘by fans for fans’ organization that came together ten years ago, when we recognized that much of the written history of Bruce and his bands was in danger of being lost. From the original donations of 850 publications in 2001 we’ve created a world-class repository of books, magazines, tour books, song books, fanzines and other documents covering the entire history of Bruce Springsteen and his bands. Thanks to our current Friends membership, the Collection has grown to over 17,000 items.”
The responses are passionate, emotional, often funny, and quite revealing into just what makes someone a fan of Bruce Springsteen. A few are in foreign languages. Here’s a Wordle of the responses (top 500 words, “Bruce” and “Springsteen” removed):
As you can see, for most it’s about the music (mentioned 619 times). I’m curious to learn more about the life (298 times)-long love (159 times) affair these fans have, and how often it’s tied to concert (231 times) experiences.
The responses will eventually be located in the collection currently housed at Monmouth University alongside the many other wonderful texts, artifacts, and memorabilia archived there. They will become part of the permanent collection, adding to the rich legacy of Springsteen and the impact he’s had on fans as individuals and the culture at large. Future researchers and fans will be able to look these words and learn more about why Springsteen has been important as a musician and a human being. I hope these will be just the first in a growing body of fan-specific documents housed in the collection.
It is an honor to have been trusted with these thoughts about Bruce Springsteen and I am proud to donate them on the respondents’ behalf.