May 22, 2013
Here's a story you don't know about a man whose music you do know: Norfolk, Virginia's favorite and the Jersey shore's adopted son, Gary "U.S." Bonds! I just finished reading By U.S. Bonds: That's My Story. It's the kind of book we need more of, one that tells what happens to a performer that rockets to fame and what happens to them when the kleig lights are turned to the next "superstar."
GARY U.S. BONDS podcast excerpt: "I had no idea who Bruce Springsteen was. I was doing the 'Holiday Inn Tour.' Whoever had a lounge, that's where I'd be playing. I wasn't listening to a lot of radio. I was too busy learning what I had to do to make the crowd happy in whatever city I was in. What old songs do they like? I didn't hear the new guys. I knew Bob Dylan, but I didn't like him. One of Bruce's friends came up to me at this hotel lounge sage and said, 'I've got a friend who really likes your music--he'd like to come up and do a song.' It was cool to have anybody come up and give me a chance to go to the bar and have a beer! I said, 'Here's a friend of mine, he'd like to sing a song: Mr. Bruce Springsteen!' And the crowd went wild. I'm going, "Who the hell IS this guy?"'"
In the case of Bonds -- who was born Gary Anderson -- he was the recipient of a second shot at the brass ring 20 years after he first hit it big with his such as "New Orleans" and "Quarter to Three," thanks to the admiration and attention of New Jersey's favorite son, Bruce Springsteen. If you follow pop music -- or Springsteen in particular -- you already know how Springsteen and "Little Steven," Steven Van Zandt, helped Bonds return to the recording studio and the Hot 100 after a two-decade absence. But what interested me in By U.S. Bonds is the way these men stayed in the life of Bonds and his family. Family, by the way, is a recurrent theme in this memoir, starting with Bonds' devotion to his mother and then to his wife and daughter. We'll definitely talk about that, too.