I remember walking into Our Price Records in Chatham Town Centre, in late 1987, and excitedly purchasing the vinyl copy of Bruce Springsteen’s newly released album Tunnel of Love. The sheer joy I felt buying the record was in sharp contrast to the distinctly underwhelmed air of just about everyone else in the store. I was reminded of that exact moment while watching Blinded by The Light, based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s autobiography Greetings from Bury Park (Bloomsbury, London, 2008). Javed, our geeky main protagonist, slips away from his sister’s wedding to buy just-released Springsteen concert tickets from the local record shop in Luton, terrified they may have already sold out. Kids, this was before the days of spending hours clicking ‘refresh’ to purchase tickets online. We had to queue at record outlets or the box office or spend ages phoning a constantly engaged number to get the chance to see our favourite performer. I could almost feel the panic and relief as Javed’s sense of urgency turns out to be in vain, as, when he arrives, he is told to calm down by his best friend’s girlfriend behind the counter, who informs him that not only was there no rush on the tickets, in fact no one had bought a single one. He had ditched his sister’s wedding for no reason, and not without consequences.
Watching the film I felt wave after wave of nostalgia. Or, more accurately, guilty pleasure; or horror, as the Pet Shop Boys ‘It’s a Sin’ sung out during the opening credits. The film is set in 1987 and although the main character, played by Viveik Kalra, is a few years older than me, we both shared a love of Bruce Springsteen and experienced an awakening from the banal synth music that was in vogue at the time. The Boss was no longer cool, it was all about electric keyboard sounds as illustrated by the reaction of Javed’s best friend Matt, who declared that only his parents’ generation listened to the likes of Springsteen. After all, synth was ‘the future’. How we rock purists turned our noses up at those artificial sounds. Little did we know that ‘the future’ would turn out to be all about auto-tune and button pressing.