People have been talking about this in the comments, and indeed, it is awesome:
And so we learn today from Mr. Brooks that “they say” (who?) “you’ve never really seen a Bruce Springsteen concert until you’ve seen one in Europe,” and then he tells us the story of how he and his friends went around Europe spending hundreds of dollars on tickets to Springsteen shows in Spain and France and they enjoyed themselves very much. The success of Springsteen is, apparently, some sort of object lesson in staying true to your (geographical?) roots, and not being too “eclectic,” or something, who the fuck knows. The column literally has this line in it: “Did it occur to them at that moment that, in fact, they were not born in the U.S.A.?” I don’t know, David, do Clash fans realize that London is not actually calling them?
Brooks’ “best theory” to explain the popularity of a man who’s been an international musical superstar for years is some bullshit piece of pop child psychology he probably wrote down in a little Mead notebook he carries around that says “bullshit pop psychology terms to drop into future columns” on the front. Also Brooks’ entire story of how Bruce’s success is rooted in his deep connection to his original roots and milieu completely ignores the stylistic eclecticism that has defined his career since fucking Nebraska (an album that is not named “New Jersey, Where I Am From”) but whatever. Whatever, David. No one cares that you like Bruce Springsteen.
Brooks has been advertising his special understanding of The Boss for years — in 2009 he wrote of how his first exposure to Springsteen, in 1975, marked the start of his “second eduction,” of the “emotional” variety. Springsteen’s actual influence on Brooks’ life and work remains something of a mystery, though Brooks claimed these anthemic tales of life’s losers shaped “the unconscious categories through which I perceive events.” I guess we’ll take your word for it, David. (“What could be less like a Bruce Springsteen song than a David Brooks column?” Roy Edroso asked at the time.)