Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi perform during '12-12-12 The Concert For Sandy Relief' December 12, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo credit DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty)
By CHRIS JORDAN The (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post
SEA BRIGHT, N.J. -- One of the first things Ray Lena did when he was faced with the destruction of his restaurant, Anjelica's in Sea Bright, was put a sign over what remained:
"No Retreat ... No Surrender."
It's a reference to the Bruce Springsteen song of defiance, "No Surrender."
"I was thinking about Springsteen, and he has that ability and gift to put into words what other people are thinking," Lena said. "He's a great writer, so that's what we're thinking. We're not going to give up here."
If there's a soundtrack to the Jersey Shore's post-Sandy reckoning, it's arguably the music of Springsteen. On YouTube, clips of the devastation are accompanied by his songs, including a video titled "Hurricane Sandy Sea Bright," which is accompanied by "One Step Up." It's been viewed more than 200,000 times. The names of fundraising movements have taken his song titles: There's "Sea Bright Rising," and "10th Avenue Freeze-out" was the name of the boroughwide music event Nov. 24 in Belmar.
His songs are accompanying cleanups, and they're resonating with people from the Jersey Shore as never before.
"It wasn't that I was affected (by Sandy), but when I hear certain (Springsteen) songs on the radio, I start crying," said Lisa Appelbaum Somogyi, 46, of Howell, who lost power for several days. "I grew up on the Shore, and it's not there anymore," she said, referring to the more hard-hit northern shore towns like Seaside.
Even though Springsteen has been touring with the E Street Band on the road and has not appeared in public at the Shore since Sandy, the bond between Shore residents and the Shore's most famous son is stronger than ever.
"We all connect to Bruce here. It's hard not to," said Scott Fadynich of Sea Bright. "He visits Sea Bright a lot ... on the weekends in the summers he'll go the Chapel Beach Club and walk on down to Donovan's (Reef) and jump on stage with Brian Kirk and the Jerks."
Springsteen, a native of Freehold who has homes in Colts Neck and Rumson, has lived in several Shore towns.
"The ocean has always been a part of him, and I can't imagine the impact (of Sandy) on what he's writing," said John D. Luerssen of Westfield, author of "Bruce Springsteen FAQ" (Backbeat Books). "Everybody knows somebody who has had damage to their home or had a tree take out a car."
The aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and their impact on Shore residents -- inspired Springsteen to write and record the 2002 album "The Rising," which gave voice to those affected by 9/11. Now, say observers, comes a similar moment.
So far, Springsteen has performed in the televised "Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together" Red Cross benefit Nov. 2 and, of course, opened with his E Street Band the "12-12-12 (A Concert For Sandy Relief)" on Dec. 12 in Madison Square Garden in New York City, where he also rocked out with Jon Bon Jovi.
In concert, Springsteen has been dedicating his song "My City of Ruins" to the Jersey Shore. The storm also has helped thaw liberal Springsteen's previously chilly relationship with conservative GOP Gov. Chris Christie. The two hugged on one occasion, and the governor said he later wept after meeting his music idol.