It's 1985 and I'm in second grade living in Hershey, Pa. Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. came out the the summer before but continues to produce hit singles like "Glory Days," "I'm Going Down," "I'm on Fire" and "My Hometown."
My dad bought the vinyl LP--I still have it, plus a CD version--and it enjoyed heavy rotation in our basement play room for much of my childhood. Sure, I didn't know the real meaning behind the title track or why "Glory Days" hit my dad in the gut, but Springsteen sounded so real to me, like a super cool uncle telling wonderful stories you can barely piece together but that are fascinating nonetheless.
Christmas break comes in '85 and my three younger siblings and I are waiting for dad to come home from Lucy's Cafe, the family business on Chocolate Ave. He's later than usual. But when Dad busts through the door he's smiling like one of his giddy chidlren. Leads Mom and all us downstairs to where the record player is and pulls out the 45 for "My Hometown." Puts on the B-side. It's the Boss, in front of an overjoyed audience, sounding, to my 8-year-old ears, like Kris Kringle himself, on "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." To this day, it lifts my spirits like no other Christmas recording.