“Absolutely, 100 percent true,” Bruce Springsteen said when introducing his song, “The Wish,” at a concert at Hope Estate Winery in Hunter Valley, Australia, in February 2014 (see below). Indeed, there are few songs in Springsteen’s catalog that are as straightforwardly autobiographical as this one, which is mainly a loving portrait of his mother, Adele Springsteen (née Zerilli).
The “rundown music store” in the second line is Caiazzo Music in his original hometown, Freehold. The Bond Street mentioned later in the song is in Asbury Park, and was possibly included as a nod to the legendary Upstage Club, which was at the corner of Cookman Avenue and Bond Street. His mother’s former workplace, which he sings about in the second verse, is Lawyers Title Insurance, also in Freehold.
Since today is Labor Day, it’s worth mentioning the surge of positivity that Springsteen seems to feel when thinking about the job his mother held when he was young: “The ladies at the office, all lipstick, perfume and rustlin’ skirts/How proud and happy you always looked comin’ home from work.”
I have included many Springsteen songs in the 350 Jersey Songs series; more than 30 are performed or written by him, or performed by members of his E Street Band. I’ve already received complaints about signature songs of his, including “Thunder Road” and “Jungleland,” that I haven’t included, just because I didn’t have space for all of them. But this one really felt essential.
Springsteen has performed “The Wish” occasionally in his concerts since 1990, and included it on his 1998 boxed-set collection of rarities and outtakes, Tracks.
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.