"My wife and I used to drag our kids to the concerts… Now I think my kids truly enjoy Bruce Springsteen."
Joe Albert, assistant professor of Organizational Leadership, is a New Jersey boy from the south shore. The Boss, from north Jersey, has been his fascination since Albert's early days.
"He is Catholic in so many ways," Albert argues. "And he is such a servant leader." Fr. Andrew Greeley, the author who wrote extensively on the place of the Roman Catholic Church in daily life suggests, "His work is profoundly Catholic, and it is so because his creative imagination is permeated by Catholic symbolism he absorbed, almost necessarily, from the Sacraments." Bruce's well-received autobiography, "Born to Run," begins outside the church of his youth, and ends in the shadow of the steeple of the same church reciting Our Lord's prayer.
With Bruce Springsteen fans, Albert and well-known servant leadership author Larry Spears, will present at Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town: An International Symposium to be held at the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, N.J., in early April.
"Springsteen often writes about the people on the margins – the immigrants, factory workers, the poor, criminals. He brings those people to the mainstream by telling their stories about who they are and what they bring to the table," Albert says.
He has seen The Boss 14 times, and has created a fund where he puts a few bucks now and then to fund all future family trips to see Springsteen in concert. "I first saw him in concert at the Tacoma Dome in 1989. We've since seen him in Jersey, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden.
"The last time I saw him he was at Key Arena in Seattle. I couldn't get tickets. In class one night, half joking, I said, ‘If anyone can help me get tickets to the Seattle Springsteen concert, I'll waive the last assignment.' One student raised her hand, called her mom right then who had a friend who worked at Key. She got a number for me to call, and the next day I had a suite for $1,500. My son and I divvied up who to invite. It was one of the most fun nights we've ever had, with my wife, two sons and 11 friends all gathered in the suite," Albert says.
He finds solace in the lyrics. "I can listen to them over and over. They've got me through the toughest times in my life," he says, choking up, "and they celebrate the greatest of times," he adds. "My favorite song? Has to be Thunder Road. The song is an invitation. It is about our calling. It invites us to pursue our hopes, our dreams, our possibilities. It's risky. It may not work out. But I always hear God's voice in that song inviting us to become who we are."
At the April conference, Albert and Spears will present a paper on servant leadership, and a presentation on storytelling and the power of Springsteen concerts. On April 15, the two will offer a session for GU alums in New York City on storytelling and servant leadership… Oh yeah&hellip. and Springsteen!
Glory Days for Albert.