Bruce Springsteen has told the stories, joking about how the songwriter who made a living on tales of breaking out of his hometown returned to live just a few miles from his Freehold, New Jersey, roots. That history will now be on display in his hometown.
The Monmouth County Historical Association in Freehold is hosting an exhibit, ''Springsteen, His Hometown,'' which started Sept. 29 and runs through September 2020, just a stone's throw from the spots that formed Springsteen and made their way into his lyrics over the years.
The exhibit, curated in conjunction with The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University, goes far deeper than most Rock and Roll Hall of Fame type displays. There are the guitars and clothes that have been a part of Springsteen’s allure over the decades, but it goes beyond that, conjuring up the roots of Springsteen’s lineage in Freehold and even before that, tracing his ancestry to 17th Century Europe.
“We were talking about this and at the same time the historical association got a fabulous new executive director named Meg Sharp Walton,” said Bernadette Rogoff, the director of collections for the Monmouth County Historical Association. “The moment she heard the idea she said we have to really run with this, we have to make it different, we have to make it special. This connects directly to our mission to talk about Monmouth County history. We knew we could tell this side of the story.”
The first floor of the display includes much of Springsteen’s musical history with guitars from the early days of his career, the Teac four-track recorder he used to record the ''Nebraska'' album at his home and posters chronicling early shows with his various bands before becoming a worldwide celebrity. There is a scrapbook kept by his mother that Springsteen donated; it's under glass, but accompanied by a video displaying each page.
Up the stairs there are paintings and drawings created by fans and the second floor of the building is spread out with rooms showing different stages of life for Springsteen and his family — a video depicting the history of Freehold in one room, another following the genealogical roots of Springsteen’s family and then one bringing the history toward his youth, including one of his earliest writings, a term paper from Freehold High School.
INFO The exhibit officially opened Sept. 29 and runs through Fall 2020 at the Monmouth County Historical Association, 70 Court St., Freehold, New Jersey. Ticket information is available at www.SpringsteenHisHometown.com.