Bruce Springsteen

Music’s power to influence, to ease, to pleasure, to cajole, to invigorate, to march, to calm, exceeds almost every other human endeavor. It can work miracles – it can soothe the beast, calm the distraught, enrapture the sacred and the profane alike – but it can’t achieve the impossible.

David Brooks remembers how music began his post-University of Chicago real world education. It did not begin, "Hello, everyone," with which classicist Karl Haas introduced middle America to Adventures in Good Music. Nope, David Brooks was born to run when he discovered The Boss:

[O]n the night of Feb. 2, 1975, I turned on WMMR in Philadelphia and became mesmerized by a concert the radio station was broadcasting. The concert was by a group I’d never heard of — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Thus began a part of my second education.

Bobo "wanted the thrill that Springsteen was offering." He was "hooked" by the "emotional uplift" of his music. Assuming his readers won’t believe their eyes, he repeats that Dale Carnegie-ish phrasing: "The uplifting experiences alone were bound to open the mind for learning." Expecting sustained incredulity, Bobo waxes about having followed Mr. Springsteen "into his world" of "teenage couples out on a desperate lark, workers struggling as the mills close down, and drifters on the wrong side of the law."

Like most of us, Bobo didn’t venture into the badlands of northern New Jew Jersey or visit the blighted mills arcing from Pittsburgh to Chicago. He didn’t attempt to land that first big gig, to broadcast that first single or to publish that first album (or the second, to show it was talent, not a fluke). Average guy Bobo went to New York, Brussels and suburban Washington, DC, for the Wall Street Journal, the National Review and the New York Times. But he claims that he learned about the real world by walking a mile in Mr. Springsteen’s music, not his shoes, and that he learned what he knows about the virtues and dignity of the common woman, the loser, the average Joe and Jamal, from listening to The Boss:

[O]ver the next few decades Springsteen would become one of the professors in my second education. In album after album he assigned a new course in my emotional curriculum.

What grades, do you think, Mr. Springsteen would award Mr. Brooks for retention, comprehension and application?