I’d like to wind back time and go back to Friday, December 7th, 2001.

The place: Jack’s Music, Red Bank, N.J.

The occasion: Danny Federici was making an in-store appearance at Jack’s to promote the release of his CD, Danny Federici.

It just so happened that I was in NJ at the time of the above event mainly because I was taking part in the official launch of The Bruce Springsteen Special Collection at Asbury Park’s Library the following day, December 8th; and naturally, when I discovered that Danny was making a personal appearance, it seemed like something I didn’t want to miss.

Accordingly, I took along my copy of Flemington and I also bought a copy of Danny Federici, both of which, Danny was kind enough to sign – actually, on Flemington, he thanked “me” for making the trip! Danny was also kind enough to pose for a couple of photographs and, seizing the opportunity to promote my reason for being in town, I explained about the Collection to Danny, suggesting he might like to come along to the launch, if he had time.

If I’m honest, I actually put the notion of Danny being able to join us, right to the back of my head and simply got on with enjoying being back in my favourite place as well as meeting up with friends old and new i.e. Melanie. Plus, Bruce was also in town at this time, playing some Holiday Shows at Convention Hall so yeah, all in all, the Shore was buzzing with all sorts of great goings-on.

The Collection launch was a massive success and it was kinda cool to receive an acknowledgement from Bruce (via Terry Magovern) about our efforts – this was when we were enlightened about the contents of Bruce’s mother’s basement!

Fast forward to the Holiday Show scheduled for the evening of December 8th and there I was, at the front barrier on the left side of the stage, quietly minding my own business, when I was suddenly aware of someone standing directly in front of me, saying: “Hi!”

When I turned my attention to respond to this Greeting from Asbury Park, NJ, I found myself looking at Danny.

Somehow, he had spotted me in the crowd… and with that, he decided to come over and ask me about the Collection launch adding that he had heard it had gone well and simultaneously apologised for not being able to attend because of rehearsals.

The thing I remember most (apart from the sound of the jaws of the people either side of me landing on the floor!) was the sincerity of that conversation… and the smile that reached Danny’s eyes as he spoke to me. We’d never met before and I would guesstimate we spoke for less than 5 minutes at Jack’s but somewhere in that short time, he acknowledged what I had said to him and he also took the trouble to follow it through.

My heart is heavy at the news of Danny’s passing and it saddens me to think of the E Street Band without his presence.

On the other hand, I feel blessed to have such a wonderful, personal memory of someone whose musical talents and career have played such a huge part in my life.

Sincerest condolences to those closest to Danny and please know that his memory and music will live forevermore in our hearts.

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