I can’t remember what my first words were, but I know that by the age of 3, I was doing my best to scream “born down in a dead’s man’s town.” I remember the Born in the USA cassette so vividly, dancing around like a fool in my family room. Dad loved dancing with me, even though I’m sure I was terrible at it (I’m still terrible).

My experience is not unique. I grew up in Central NJ to a blue collar dad and a stay at home mom. Life was not easy for many reasons, but I knew that when I needed to get away, all I needed was the sound of Bruce’s voice and the tinge of Clarence’s sax.

When 9/11 hit my world was destroyed. My dad was a police officer and lead the Middlesex County team up for several days to work through rubble, arriving hours after the second tower went down. I begged him not to go. He said he had to. He didn’t come back the same. My dad struggled through disease, illness, near death incidents more times than I can count - a general lack of quality of life. And that man never complained and never had anything but a smile on his face. He loved when The Rising came out, despite it not having the same “dance around the house” feel. Bruce’s words meant something different. The innocence of my life was gone.

17 years later and after doing nothing but struggle, we lost my dad to 9/11 related illness. I didn’t know how to go on. If I’m being honest I still don’t. I would cry for hours and listen to Land of Hope and Dreams, the song I felt was my direct connection to my dad. It gave me peace that one day I would take that same train and meet him in the Land of Hope and Dreams. Sometimes he is an ass and makes it play on my Google Home without me saying anything. I know it’s him.

We lost him a bit before COVID hit. Somewhere in my mind I knew with all his conditions he would not survive it - this caused a weird sense of relief. I spent my hours watching live shows (the Italian shows are amazing), singing karaoke and letting the music fill me like I did when I was a child. It was like going to church. I don’t know how else to explain it.

Letter to you became my anthem of late 2020/2021. An album written about missing and celebrating those who are gone. It took many attempts to get through I’ll See You In My Dreams. I now have the lyrics tattooed on my arm along with the tattoo I got in memory of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I listened to that album every day without fail.

I write this as a thank you to Bruce Springsteen for saving my life. I don’t want to be his friend, hang out with him or anything like that. I just want him to know what he did for me. How he kept me from going to those dark places that death and disease take you. I don’t know what I would have done without his voice.

Everyone in NJ has a story of what Bruce did for them. This is mine. I don’t think without him I would be alive today. I am grateful and thankful for his words, his selflessness, his dedication to his fans and music and overall just who he is. Bruce Springsteen has been one of the most important people in my life without me ever having even met him - during the good times and the impossibly tough times. I will be forever grateful to the Patron Saint of Freehold, NJ for all he has done for us. Bruce, this is my letter to you. We love you and thank you.
January 14, 2023 — Stacy Sabo