Motor Sport Muse by Connie Ann Kirk

Connie Ann Kirk, Ph.D. is a writer living in upstate New York. She has been credentialed by the FIA to write about Formula 1, credentialed by NASCAR and IndyCar for its races, and by historic / vintage entities like SVRA and Goodwood to write about their events in the U.S. and U.K.. Connie is working on a book about racers and racing. She created, writes, and maintains Motor Sport Muse as a not-for-profit online column / blog and bulletin board for participants, fans, and enthusiasts in the motor sport community and other interested readers. Thank you for visiting!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Car (Driving) Songs: Bruce Springsteen's "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," a sunny day, & driving a car

This song doesn't have much about cars or driving in the lyrics, but I have a strong, and more recent, car memory that goes merrily along with it.  Guess maybe I should call it a "driving song."

After battling traffic driving solo to the Jersey shore from upstate New York the summer of 2013, and after presenting my paper at an academic conference I was there to participate in, the biggest pressures of the trip were off, and I had an afternoon free.  The conference didn't meet far from the Springsteen-famed Asbury Park amusement park, and I decided to locate the place for myself and take in the sites and the sights.

Had a wonderful time strolling the boardwalk, taking my shoes off, and putting my toes in the Atlantic Ocean (cold!), watching people.  It was a beautiful, warm but not yet hot sunny day -- early to mid-June, when those days can still feel somewhat new to those of us who live in the Northeast and work predominantly inside.  Spring had come late, and summer had not yet fully arrived, so the day felt special just for the weather.  It didn't matter what else happened at the conference, or if I could make my way back through the traffic to get home in a couple of days.  That glorious weather at that particular location on that particular day was enough to make my spirits soar!

Taking it all in, I chatted with the vendors, sat on the benches, took photographs, and just genuinely enjoyed how similar the sight all was to the pictures Springsteen's songs always brought to mind when I listened to them.  It was one of those rare experiences when an artist's work is full of place -- and when you visit that place, you feel at home simply because you have enjoyed that artist's work for many years before you got there. 

I remember feeling the same way when I first visited the moors of the Bronte sisters in West Yorkshire, England.  Charlotte, Emily, and Anne's house.  The graveyard.  The mossy, ragged, wild moors all around.  I knew that place!  What I saw in front of me on that gray, misty day was just what their books had created in my imagination so many times for so many years before.

Well, after spending the entire afternoon at Asbury Park, New Jersey, it was time to go back to the conference location to prepare for the banquet a bit later on that evening.  I got in my now-hot car, rolled down the windows, and turned on the radio, and there it was -- Bruce Springsteen himself serenading me on the radio with none other than -- "Waitin' on a Sunny Day."  How did he know I was there, and how nice of him to greet me to his hometown that way! 

I cranked it up, left my windows down, and drove down the shore as far as I could before the song and time ran out.  One of those perfect drives combined with the perfect music accompaniment, you know? 

The song is actually from Springsteen's post 9/11 album, The Rising, though it was reportedly written before the 9/11 attacks.  In the context of that album, the simple pop melody and lyrics recall an earlier, more innocent time and a desire to find happiness and peace of mind yet again.  While the lyrics make it clear the day is not yet here, the melody makes it sound like the sunny day is not far away.  It is not a deeply poetic song, but its lightheartedness fits its theme.

As, for me, now it's a car song and has joined my favorite driving songs playlist.  And, at least for now, until another memory adds to it, whenever I hear it, it will always make me think of that sunny Friday afternoon, driving along Asbury Park and the Jersey shore in June of 2013!

Thanks, Bruce!

Song/video link:


by Bruce Springsteen

It's rainin' but there ain't a cloud in the sky
Musta been a tear from your eye
Everything'll be okay
Funny thought I felt a sweet summer breeze
Musta been you sighin' so deep
Don't worry we're gonna find a way

I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin' on a sunny day

Without you I'm workin' with the rain fallin' down
Half a party in a one dog town
I need you to chase the blues away
Without you I'm a drummer girl that can't keep a beat
And ice cream truck on a deserted street
I hope that you're coming to stay

I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin' on a sunny day

Hard times baby, well they come to tell us all
Sure as the tickin' of the clock on the wall
Sure as the turnin' of the night into day
Your smile girl, brings the mornin' light to my eyes
Lifts away the blues when I rise
I hope that you're coming to stay