London Calling Bruce

Sarfraz Manzoor, a British Muslim, publishes a tribute to the one man who helped him reconcile his conflicting backgrounds and cope with a rocky relationship with his father: none other than Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen.

“You got to see him when he was still the long-haired singer in Steel Mill, and he’s still likely to turn up unannounced somewhere in Asbury Park. But there are things you cannot understand if you come from New Jersey, and amongst them is why Bruce could change the life of someone like me who is a British Pakistani Muslim.”

To explain how that happened, Manzoor, 36, has written a memoir, Greetings From Bury Park, published this month by Vintage Departures. Manzoor, who emigrated from Pakistan to London with his family when he was two, was openly rebelling against family and school when, at sixteen, a friend lent him Tunnel of Love.

“I always thought music was about entertainment and escapism,” Manzoor says. “But Bruce was confronting really big questions. He comes from a working class town; so do I. He sang about not getting along with his father. My dad works in a car factory, and we argued a lot. But Bruce seemed a lot wiser than I was. In a song like “Independence Day” he’s not angry with his dad, he accepts that things are changing.”

By now, Manzoor has seen Springsteen in concert nearly 80 times in Europe and the U.S., and has met him on several occasions, beginning with the Human Touch concerts in 1992.

Manzoor, who is now a successful writer and broadcaster in Britain, wrote his book “as a way of thanking Bruce, because his music has given me so much. I feel a responsibility to honor other people who come from a background like mine but don’t get to write books and are not as lucky as I’ve been. That sense of responsibility is in ‘The Promise,’ which is my favorite Bruce song.”

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