IT WAS 1975, and I was out of my hippie wannabe stage. I was playing it straight; not out of choice, but necessity. (But that’s another story.) I was still as anti-authoritarian as all get-out—at least when it came to bosses who were really bullies with authority—taking crap from no one. Except, of course, from my girlfriend. In fact, my boss at the place where I worked was such an arsewhole that to this day I wish I had asked him to step outside and duke it out!
But I didn’t.
Being the wuss that I was, instead of having it out with him, I was petty instead: I took to calling everybody “boss” as a way to ameliorate the pain of having to work under this guy every day.
So, like I said, it’s 1975 and my little sister is a student at Kutztown and I drove more than two hours from Wilkes-Barre to Kutztown to see her. It was a Saturday in July in Pennsylvania, so it’s hot. There was also a concert at the college by the latest hotshot rock & roller that everybody was talking about that I wanted to see.
The old two-stones-with-one-bird thing.
So I had lunch with her and met her super-cute co-ed friends. 1
I visited a great little mom-and-pop record store there in downtown Kutztown and bought a stack of old 45s that had been sitting in their back-room since 1966: Yardbirds, Animals, Kinks, Byrds, etc., everything but Beatles and Stones, which were long gone).
That evening, I went to the concert and saw the up-and-coming superstar: he was good. In fact, he was a helluvalot better than his first couple of albums let on!
But he wasn’t that good.
I gabbed with other people at the show, and everyone that had seen him before agreed that he was off a little that night.
During a lengthy instrumental break where the band showed off its chops, I went to the head and found myself standing in the urinal next to the star of the show.
There was no one else in the room.
Wanting to be cool, I looked straight ahead. 2
But I’m a friendly guy so I just bobbed my head at the wall and I said, Hey, boss. 3
And he stops, shakes, steps back, and says, “You talkin’ to me?”
He does a Travis Bickle on me and all I can say is, Huh? 4
“You talkin’ to me?”
He does it again and this time I stammer out, Nuh-no, man!
“What did you just call me?”
Boss. I called you boss. Don’t take it personal, man—it doesn’t mean anything!
And he said, “No, man. I like it!”
Now he’s Mr Nice Guy and all I can say again is, Huh?
“I really like it,” and he gives me one of those little punches in the bicep. “Thanks, man. Thanks a lot.”
And he smiled a big old smile, nodded, and sauntered back out to the stage and gave one helluva show the rest of the set and he introduced some new songs from his next album and blew everyone away with a blistering version of a song called Born To Run that segued into Thunder Road and he proved it all night that he was the boss!
This photo was cropped from the bootleg KUTZTOWN SERENADE, recorded live on July 25, 1975. I am assuming this is a photo from that show.
1 About using the word cute here: I don’t remember bandying the word hot around when describing girls back then like every guy in the world seems to do today. I mean, there were hot chicks, but I remember saving the word for REALLY hot chicks!
2 As all men are supposed to do in men’s rooms.
3 As all straight men know never to do in men’s rooms.
4 If you have to look it up, look it up. Then see the movie …
FEATURED IMAGE: Old Main, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (KU).