Re: Bruce Springsteen - Yeah, Nah, or Blah?
posted at 9/6/2012 9:37 PM EDT
Where does Springsteen rank among the great poet/lyricists of rock music?
Perhaps his most acclaimed set of lyrics is the epic ‘Jungleland’ from the Born to Run album. An excerpt:
The midnight gangs assembled and picked a rendezvous for the night
‘We’ll meet ‘neath that giant Exxon sign, that brings this fair city light’
Man there’s an opera out on the turnpike
And there’s a ballet being fought out in the alley
Until the local cops’ cherry tops, rip this holy night
The street’s alive, as secret debts are paid
Contacts made, they vanish unseen
Kids flash guitars just like switchblades
Hustling for the record machine
The hungry and the hunted, explode into rock and roll bands
And face off against each other out in the street
Down in jungleland
Powerful stuff. Outside of Bob Dylan, has anybody written any rock poetry quite like this?
One of my favorite Springsteen songs is ‘Downbound Train’. I find this to be a terribly sad song that affects me deeply every time I hear it. The lyrics are much more compressed than the ones for Jungleland. Here are the opening lines:
I had a job, I had a girl
I had somethin’ goin’, mister, in this world
I got laid off down at the lumberyard
Our love went bad, times got hard
Now I work down at the car wash
Where all it ever does is rain
Now don’t it feel like you’re a rider
On a downbound train?
Wow. I really admire how these lyrics say so much so quickly. I think it takes a real gift to be able to pack so much information and feeling into a few lines.