There’s a Darkness on the Edge of Town

Talk about a dream, try to make it real.

Tonight my husband and I went to see Blinded by the Light, a terrific story of a young Pakistani man living in Luton around 1980 and dealing with cultural difficulties with his dad as well as an increasing white nationalist movement against Pakistanis in England (sound familiar with Trump?). And, to boot, the guy falls in love a girl and also with Bruce Springsteen’s music. I highly recommend. I almost cried so many times during the movie.

Let’s move back a few decades. The town I lived in during my younger years was in the suburbs of Chicago. In my town was a head shop. It was your typical record store that sold all types of music, including old albums. And they sold bongs and stuff. The first album I bought with my own money was Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. Unbeknownst to my dad*, he had already unintentionally supported almost all of Led Zeppelin’s early albums, Queen, David Bowie, The Who, The Rolling Stones, the Smiths, and so on. But something about Bruce Springsteen really hit me where it counts. He seemed to sing directly to me in “Thunder Road”:

The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey, that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again, I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside, darling, you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re alright
Oh, and that’s alright with me
You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
Well now, I ain’t no hero, that’s understood…

The main thing is that he sang about dreams despite anyone’s desperate situations, which was integral to me and youths all around the world. We gotta have our dreams. And, like Javed in the movie, we have the arts to scream out in, so we do.

*To give credit to my dad, he was the first in my life to let me know about the haters and fundamentalists tearing the world apart, and he was the first, with my mother, to teach me love for all people, regardless of faith, skin color, sexual orientation, age, gender, and ethnicity. How this happened in the overwhelming conservative/judgmental communities I was raised in, I have no idea but feel eternally grateful for my parents being so cool.

Springsteen really does speak to everyone, even if a lot of it is from the 1980s, and to this day is a supporter of all Americans, including LGBTQ, as he calls for integrity in government, truth, and transparency. Which we are seeing none of these days as far as the current leadership goes.

The movie made me cry because there are some emotionally happy scenes of songs like “Thunder Road” and “Born to Run”, which, honestly, may be my iconic songs for coming-of-age in America as far as wanting to get out of the cornfields and finding something new. It was during the time of the cold war, Reagan, and Thatcher.  I had no pain like Javed’s in the movie, but recognized that one last chance to make it real as any youth does. So there’s that part.  But the emotion of seeing Javed’s family’s daughter’s wedding being interrupted by a wave of white nationalists attacking Pakistanis in the street just ripped at me. Thought I cannot even begin to know it, I can still hate it. The movie did such a good job at portraying this truth while still celebrating dreams and unification among Javed’s family.

The neatest part about the movie is that it’s inspired by a true story. I think this story exists quietly around the world for people like me who fell in love with the boss long ago!

See the trailer for more.

The featured image is by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1988-0719-38 / Uhlemann, Thomas / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5424369

So much more happened today, including the death of a beautiful grandma, age 103–I can’t quite find words just yet. It has added to the emotion of this day and the state of the world, and I’m sure I will talk about it soon.

Leave a Reply