August 11th, 2003: The Day Bruce Springsteen Ran Out of Inane Childhood Stories to Talk About Before Starting a New Song

Good evening, good evening. I remember standing on the corner of Kingsly Ave. and I was just 17 years old and man it was hot, and there were these girls lying out on the beach. So fine man, and you know just out of my reach. We used to call them Pretty Flamingos, you know. Like one of the guys would come by and I’d say hey Clarence, check out those Pretty flamingos and he’d say something like “Shut the fuck up Bruce.” HeHehe, but that was Clarence man, HEheeheHE. Anyway, my old man wouldn’t let me have sugar as a kid and he’d always be yelling at me, “Bruce” he’d say “I better not catch you with any sugar.” You know? He’d be down in the kitchen eating his baloney and cheese on white bread and I hear him yelling up to me, “You better not be eating any god damn sugar up there.”

And there was this old place back then, that we used to play at called the Gaslight, it ain’t around no more, and man we’d be there ’till four in the morning some nights you know, just playing. They had this Mr. Softy soft serve ice cream in the back. Man, sometimes it be all I’d think about. Mr. Softy man, I just couldn’t get him out of my head. Both flavors man, vanilla and chocolate. And there was this bin with that stuff you put on top, Jimmy’s. We used to call them Jimmy’s but I’ve heard them called sprinkles too. Rainbow Jimmy’s man HeHeehe. And I’d be playing up on stage with the guys but I’d be thinking, you know, maybe I could just sneak a cone you know, the old man wouldn’t find out. Or maybe, just maybe, I could stick my head under the tap and Steve could pull the handle, I wouldn’t even need a cone.

But I never did it man, I never did it. I always thought the old man would jump out from somewhere, you know, no matter how late it was. I kept thinking he’d just pop out of nowhere and stab me in the neck with a Spork and yell “I told you no god damn sugar, kid.” You know what a spork is Clarence? It’s like spoon and a fork together in one utensil; it’s good for eating chili and stew, HeeHeehe.

So around this time we started making a little money with the band and I got my first car, a ’57 Chevy, thirty miles highway, and a Hurst on the floor. It had Flames on it and everything, man it was hot! Twenty five city. And once I got that thing going man I just drove and drove you know, I didn’t care where I was going. Days went by, I’m telling you, I just drove, didn’t stop for anything, not gas or food, I didn’t even stop for the bathroom, I just went in the car. HeeheHee. So I found myself at this little ice cream place in the middle of nowhere. And I just knew the old man couldn’t find me out there. And I went up to the lady at the stand and I said ‘I’d like a Mr. Softy’ and she said to me, she said ‘son, the machine’s broke.’ This song’s called The River.

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