Tramps Like Us… On Born to Run and Karaoke

I’ve never ridden a motorbike.

To regular readers of this blog, that won’t come as much of a surprise. I nearly had to ride one once, back at university when a biker friend and I thought we were going to have to hunt down the people who were screwing up an assignment for us. Fortunately I didn’t own a helmet and so the hunt was cancelled.

And yet, earlier this week, I was sitting on a car park, listening to Kerrang Radio and loudly singing along to a classic motorbike song. Because somewhere along the line, Born To Run has become my juhachiban, my favourite karaoke song.

It’s easy to see why – frankly it’s an amazing song, full of evocative imagery, epic guitars and the most iconic “1,2,3,4!” you’ll ever hear. It might not be my favourite Springsteen song – that’s Thunder Road – but it’s the one I sing the most.

But while I’m admitting that, I should also admit the song’s a little alien to me – not only have I never been on a motorbike, but there aren’t many mist-shrouded beaches and looming amusement parks in Dudley either. And yet when Bruce and I duet, it’s four minutes of joy, for me if not for my audience. Why?

Simply put, it’s a song about freedom, and that’s a theme of universal import. I grew up a shy child, scared of talking to my own shadow, awkward, over-weight and quiet, and while adulthood has forced me to get over most of these, I still suffer from a lack of confidence at times.

And yet one day, some friends and I were playing Rock Band, and I picked up the mic and I’ve never looked back. And the point of no return was when I instinctively did a fist-bump as I yelled “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes…”, because that was the moment I learned that it didn’t matter how silly I looked or how out-of-tune I was, what mattered was that I was having fun. And if you don’t have fun because someone thinks you look stupid, well, something’s gone wrong somewhere.

And, if that’s the case, maybe it’s time you walked away from the naysayers, cranked up your iPod, and sang a song about liberation and freedom and hope. And then sing it again.

Only louder.


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