"I was living in a small house in West Long Branch, New Jersey, up the coast from Asbury," Bruce Springsteen's narration says over super-8 footage and photos in the opening moments of the 2005 documentary "Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run." "One day I was playing guitar on the edge of the bed working on some song ideas and the words 'born to run' came to me." Later in the film, Springsteen revisits his former home where he wrote the album's title track, and "Thunder Road" and "She's the One."
That small Long Branch cottage has just been listed for sale with Keller Williams Realty. The Realtor, Susan McLaughlin, remembers the Boss, like any longtime shore-dweller worth their salt water taffy. She lived across the street when Springsteen was a resident, in 1974 and '75, and says he was very much the local celebrity at the time. But although at 25 he'd already made two records, the ballad he wrote in this house, "Born to Run," was the one that would ignite his career.
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The price for what could be called the ultimate Springsteen collectible is $349,000. The 1920 shotgun house is just 828 square feet with two bedrooms, a bath, living room and kitchen, front porch, back patio, and small fenced-in yard. But it's also got location working in its favor, being just one block from the beach.
There are three current co-owners, who bought the home in 2009 for $280,000, hoping to save it from being razed. But now the home's lone resident and co-owner, who is 32, is moving out because he's getting married and he says he is stumped about what to do next with the property, so he and his partners are looking for the next caretaker for this artifact of New Jersey's music history.
The current resident, who asked not to be named, told CNBC.com that he and the other owners gave the house a major upgrade after the purchase, including repairing the deteriorated side wall, installing hardwood floors, ceiling fans and siding, and updating the bathroom and heat.
Predictably, along with this purchase comes the occasional Springsteen fans, who make pilgrimages to snap photos.
"If Bruce is doing something up at the Meadowlands, fans from all over are around," the resident said. "Italy, Norway, Germany, Canada. … Usually when Bruce is doing something, they come out." Some come bearing gifts of memorabilia, and he has shown some of the visitors around the house. "You meet a lot of nice people," he said.
The home on West End Court is also zoned as commercial-residential, increasing its possible uses beyond being a private home. The current resident said, "hopefully whoever gets it next will do something to keep the Springsteen factor alive." He said he wouldn't sell the cottage to someone who intended to tear it down.
Maybe a Springsteen super-fan will make the buy. (Paging Gov. Chris Christie.)