Jack and the Boss

Wrote this as a facebook post a couple of days after the gig. It was replublished on news.com.au, and Jack and I even did a little ‘good news’ spot on Channel 10’s The Project. Jack has cerebral palsy and cortical vision impairment.

This is perhaps my favourite ever photo of Jack.

Photo: Sonia Denisenko

Photo: Sonia Denisenko

We were so unsure whether to take him to see Springsteen in Melbourne this week.

On the one hand, he is seriously obsessed. He watches “Bwuce” all day on YouTube. No greatest hits fan is Jack. He requests specific gigs, tracks, guest artists (‘Bwian from Gaslight Anthem with Bwuce!’). He knows all the E-Street Band by name.

On the other hand, lack of vision and sensory processing issues mean he can’t cope with loud music. He’s made screaming exits from the school fete and dozens of other PA scenarios. He even hates rain if it’s too loud on the roof.

So we thought he was no chance to cope. My prediction was two minutes max. My wife Tamsin convinced me we had to at least give him a shot.

All day he said he didn’t want to go. “Maybe I’ll see Bwuce later,” he said over and over. Then he’d cry, begging not to go. “I want to see Bwuce another time! Not today!”

We set up the plans for our inevitable failure. My brother Ned offered to wait outside AAMI Park.

Jack flinched at the first blast of noise as we exited the train.

“Is that Bwuce?”

“No that’s Jet,” I said.

“Is there clapping at Jet?”

“Yes there will be clapping at Jet.”

“Will Bwuce be on soon?”

“Yes, after Jet.”

“And Steven Van Zandt?”

“Yes, he’ll be on guitar.”

“And Patti?”

“Yes, she’ll be there too.”

“Bwuce’s wife, Patti?”

“Yes, she’s Bruce’s wife.”

“And Nils?”

And so we namechecked the whole E-Street Band as we crossed the railway yards.

It got louder and louder, but he seemed to be coping.

Then a nervous moment. Security told me I couldn’t take in a backpack.

I explained Jack’s cerebral palsy. “Without this I reckon he’s no chance,” I said.

“Fair enough,” said the most sensible security officer on earth, and ushered us through.

We found our way to the back of the ground section, using lifts and ramps that toured us halfway around the stadium.


We found our spots. Plenty of room. Not too loud at all. The calm before the storm.

“Will Bwuce play American Land?” Jack said, which is Bruce’s thumping Pogues-ish ode to American immigration. Jack’s favourite.

“Maybe,” I said

“Will he play Badlands?”


Then it started. The “Melboooourne”, the clapping, the drums, the music. American Land it was.

Jack did the shrieking he does for the YouTube songs. His happy cheers. He called Bruce’s name. He called Steven van Zant’s name. He jiggled, he rocked, he had a ball.

For 12 songs.

One hour and ten minutes.

Then he broke. Youngstown broke him, and he asked to go home.

Ever since he has watched this video. Over and over and over.

His first words when he woke up the day after:

“I’m a Bwuce Springsteen fan. I’m a Bwuce Springsteen goer.”


Jack and I received lovely notes from all over the world. One of the nicest was from Natalie Sarny, who is following the Springsteen Summer ’17 tour right around the country. She took a photo of Steven van Zandt looking at Jack’s video.

van zandtThe book dedicated to Jack and his perseverance is ‘The Cow Tripped Over the Moon’. It is a CBCA Honour Book, and the National Simultaneous Storytime title for 2017. (May 24th, 11am)

This is Jack and my appearance on Channel 10s ‘The Project’

The Cow Tripped Over the Moon

Scholastic, 2015

Hey diddle diddle
You all know the riddle
A cow jumps over the moon
It happened all right
On a crisp, cloudless night
On the second last Friday in June read more…

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