The Day My Son Became a Lifelong Bruce Springsteen Fan

A live Springsteen concert enthrals a young boy with cerebral palsy – and makes him a lifelong fan.

The Day My Son Became a Diehard Bruce Springsteen Fan
Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson is the author of more than a dozen books for both adults and children. His bestselling book The Cow Tripped Over the Moon is dedicated to his son Jack. 

Our son Jack, aged five, is one of Australia’s biggest Bruce Springsteen fans. He has cerebral palsy, which affects all four limbs, and cortical vision impairment, which means he struggles to see further than a metre.

He has inherited his Bruceness from me. I received a copy of Born to Run from my uncle when I was 11 – a dubbed tape containing my first taste of true rock ‘n’ roll, and it was love. My wife, Tamsin, is a respecter of Bruce, if not a devotee. She’s been to two live shows now. She thinks they are great, if a fraction long.

But Jack’s obsession takes mine to a different level. He watches ‘Bwuce’ all day on YouTube. Jack is no ‘greatest hits’ fan. He requests specific gigs, tracks, guest artists (Bwian from The Gaslight Anthem with Bwuce!). He knows all of the E Street Band by name.

We were so unsure whether to take him to see Springsteen when he played in Melbourne in February 2017. On the one hand, he is seriously obsessed. On the other hand, his lack of vision and his sensory processing issues mean he can’t cope with loud music. He’s made screaming exits from the school fete and dozens of other similar scenarios. He hates it if it’s raining too loud on the roof. So we thought he’d have no chance of coping; my prediction was two minutes, max.

All day he said he didn’t want to go. “Maybe I’ll see Bwuce later,” he said over and over. Then he’d cry, begging not to go. “I want to see Bwuce another time! Not today!” We tried to reassure him, “Just give it a try,” but he was insistent. I started to consider who else might go in his place.

Tamsin was the one who convinced me to give Jack a shot. “Let’s just get him close to the stadium, and if he doesn’t get upset, we’ll just keep going. It’s his favourite thing in the world. We’ve got to try.”

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