Celebrating Springsteen at 70

A new museum exhibition and book about the Boss coincide with his big birthday later this month.

Bruce Springsteen turns 70 this month, and while you don’t have to wait until his actual birthday—September 23—to feel old, you might want to hold off until that date to celebrate the milestone.

One reason is “Springsteen: His Hometown,” an exhibition of memorabilia, including never-before-seen alternate album covers as well as scrapbooks made by his mother, Adele Springsteen, that will open September 23 at the Monmouth County Historical Association Museum in Freehold. Another is Long Walk Home: Reflections on Bruce Springsteen, a new book due the same day from Rutgers University Press. The book collects the writing of Springsteen devotees, including novelist Richard Russo, music critic Greil Marcus, poet Paul Muldoon and photographer Frank Stefanko, who also contributed the cover art. 

Stefanko met Springsteen in the late 1970s through his friend Patti Smith. According to Stefanko, Smith told Springsteen, “You should be photographed by Frank. He’s a real good friend.” 

RELATED: 10 Revelations from Springsteen’s Memoir

Springsteen showed up soon after at Stefanko’s home in Haddonfield (he now lives in Palmyra). One of the resulting photos became the cover of 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town. Two years later, Springsteen used another Stefanko photo for the cover of The River. 

Stefanko’s relationship with Springsteen also resulted in two photography books, 2003’s Days of Hopes and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen, and 2017’s Bruce Springsteen: Further Up the Road. His written contribution to Long Walk Home details an 80s-era walk he and Springsteen took around Hopkins Pond in Haddonfield. As they strolled, Springsteen decided not to make his presence known to a group of picnicking teenagers blaring the Born to Run album.

“My thought was, Wouldn’t it have been cool if Bruce wandered over there and let them know he was there?” Stefanko says. That he didn’t was a reminder that Springsteen has always marched to his own drummer.

“What Bruce has in mind for his birthday, I have no idea,” Stefanko says. “But that’s the thing about a true artist: You never know what they’re creating … what they’re going to come up with next.”

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