Honoring Eric Greenberg

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Editor’s Note: The following were words said by Professor Paul Contino at a reception at Pepperdine University’s Payson Library where the music collection of Eric Greenberg was donated on the year anniversary of his death.

Eric Greenberg was one of those good people who make Malibu feel like the small town it actually is. Before the rents rose at the Cross Creek shopping plaza, before the ceaseless construction commenced and before stores like Diesel had to close as a result, one could stroll along and greet the merchants at the various stores.

My daughters, in their longing for a puppy (which they now have), always insisted on stopping at the now departed pet store. But they knew that afterward, Dad would want to stop next door at Radio Shack. I would pop my head in and almost always Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band would be playing on the DVD. That was my sign: Eric was in the building.

I’d seek him out, and, if he weren’t too busy helping a customer, we would enjoy a good talk, usually about music, mostly about Bruce. One day we were talking about the amazing 1978 concerts (I’d attended three of them), and Eric kindly gave me a couple of cassette tapes-a complete recording of what I might consider the rock and roll equivalent of the Holy Grail: Bruce’s October 1978 concert at the Capitol Theater in New Jersey. It’s provided me with inspiration ever since-“Bruce juice,” as an old New York DJ used to call it.

Now the Payson Library is the beneficiary of Eric’s collection of smart, energizing rock and roll. Thanks to the generous gift of his family, academics like me, who, sans electric guitar, instead write scholarly appreciations of the music of Bruce Springsteen, and present them at conferences. Well, now we can dip into this treasure trove of Eric’s music and find wonderful stuff, some of that great music which wafted from the open door of Radio Shack. Of course, ordinary folks who just love music will find treasures here, too.

Eric loved music and he provided invaluable service to the many local musicians, like John Zambetti, who live and make music here in Malibu. When I heard that Eric had passed away, I was very sad, as I’m sure were many in the musical community here in Malibu. But I remember Eric, and will continue to do so every time I dip into this fabulous collection of CDs and DVDs.

A few years ago, Bruce wrote a song for a friend of his who had died. He sang:

But love is a power greater than death, just like the songs and stories told

And when she built you, brother, she broke the mold.

(“Terry’s Song”)

The same can be said-no, better sung-about Eric. His love for music brought music to so many. With this collection, he will continue to do so. Thank you, Debby, and thanks to all of Eric’s family, and to all of you for being here today.

Paul Contino