‘In Freehold,’ Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, in July 1999.

Bruce Springsteen at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, in July 1999.

Bruce Springsteen’s musical home town is Asbury Park. But his real home town is about 15 miles away, in Freehold. And in 1996, he shocked his fans by presenting a concert in the gym of his old elementary school, the St. Rose of Lima parochial school, to help raise money for a church-run community center. Only Freehold residents could attend, plus a few journalists.

The biggest musical surprise of the evening was a long, often funny song, “In Freehold,” that is probably the most straightforwardly autobiographical song Springsteen ever has written. I was one of those journalists who was there that night, covering the concert for The Star-Ledger, and I assumed it was a one-time-only song, never be repeated. But Springsteen has, in fact, done it outside of Freehold since then — 20 times, all between 1997 and 2003 — though he never has included it on an album.

Below is a clip of him singing it at the Continental Airlines Arena, in 1999.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.

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