Lorraine Mangione, professor of clinical psychology, has published four articles and given about ten presentations on singer Bruce Springsteen; she continued that scholarship at Glory Days: A Springsteen Symposium, held September 12-14 at Monmouth University in New Jersey.
Her presentation, titled “Psychological Theories of Grieving, Italian American Culture, and Springsteen’s Work,” looked at the rock star’s response to recent losses by examining several songs from the albums Devils and Dust, Magic, and Working on a Dream, as well as his current tour and Wrecking Ball. “One wonders if the legendary Springsteen faith is going to prevail or if it is fate that is cruel and unforgiving and leaves you with nothing?” she said in her abstract. “Issues of loss and grief have been particularly salient in Springsteen’s current work and tour given the death of his longtime friend and sax player, Clarence Clemons.”
Mangione presented at the first symposium, held in 2005, but her research and scholarship on Springsteen began in the late 1970s. Her friends Martha and Cathy had been enthralled with rising star Springsteen for several years. “Other friends and I would poke fun at their enthusiasm bordering on obsession, and we sort of saw Springsteen as just another rock star,” she said. “His simultaneous appearance on Time and Newsweek in the mid-1970s cemented for us that he was all hype.”
But as a graduate student at the University of Kansas in 1978, Mangione became a convert, after listening to his newly released album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and seeing him in concert in Kansas City, Missouri. She and several graduate school pals became steadfast fans. This year Mangione and the same graduate school group got together at a Springsteen concert at Massachusetts’ Gillette stadium.
“I think his appeal is that he writes about some very deep and meaningful themes and experiences, often touching on the sadness and ‘underside’ of life and relationships, at the same time that he fully celebrates the joy and exuberance of life, love, friendship, and community,” said Mangione, who claims she is often accused of “going to more Springsteen concerts than I should.”
She also apologizes profusely to Martha and Cathy for being wrong about Springsteen.