What would you say if you had a chance to meet your idol? Last Friday evening I met Bruce Springsteen, my musical hero for more than 20 years. During the last two decades my love of Springsteen’s music – an obsession somewhat obsessively documented – has evolved. It began with me as a mere fan travelling the world to attend gigs. That led to my memoir Greetings from Bury Park which described how his music changed my life. Now I am making this into a film with Bend It Like Beckham director – and fellow Springsteen fanatic – Gurinder Chadha.
That was how I found myself surrounded by the likes of Greg Dyke, Rob Brydon and Badly Drawn Boy at a BFI reception for Springsteen ahead of a screening of his new documentary The Promise. A blizzard of flashbulbs heralded his arrival; he signed autographs for the fans and then strode inside. He spotted me immediately. “How you been?” he asked offering his hand for me to shake. I didn’t have time to reply before he continued, “I got to tell you I really loved your book.”
“You’ve read my book?” I said disbelievingly.
“Yes I have,” he said, “and it’s a lovely thing – really beautiful.”
This was very weird indeed: Bruce Springsteen was telling me he lovedmy work. “How did you even know the book existed?” I asked, nonplussed. “People send me copies,” he answered. At this point Gurinder (who, thank God, had been filming the encounter on a Flip camera or no one would have believed it had happened) stepped in and told Bruce that she wanted to direct the film version. Springsteen said that sounded great and with that he was gone.
And how did it all feel? My father died when I was 23 – he only saw me as an unemployed graduate and never knew me as a journalist or broadcaster or anything at all. Having Bruce Springsteen praise my book was as close as I will ever come to having my late father tell me he is proud of the man I have become.
Ridiculously happy here for Sarfraz Manzoor - his book is a great read for any Bruce fan interested in race, music and the modern world. It’s available on amazon.com