“This is a song because everyone needs some place to go on those nights when they can’t go home.”Bruce Springsteen (60)
“My sister Virginia became pregnant at seventeen, and no one realised it until she was six months along! In her senior year she dropped out of high school, was tutored at home and married her boyfriend and the father of her child, Mickey Shave. I wrote “The River” in her and my brother-in-law’s honor.”Bruce Springsteen (1191)
“It was just a guy in a bar talking to the stranger on the next stool. I based the song on the crash of the construction industry in late-seventies New Jersey, the recession and hard-times that fell on my sister Virginia and her family. I watched my brother-in-law lose his good-paying job and work hard to survive without complaint. When my sister first heard it, she came backstage, gave me a hug and said, “That’s my life.””Bruce Springsteen (1193)
“It’s an invitation. The opening of ‘Born To Run’ was my big invitation. We invite you to “something”. Not sure what yet. The music at the beginning sounds like an invitation – something is opening up to you. What I hoped it would be when I wrote the song was what I got out of Rock n Roll music which was a sense of a larger life, a greater experience, more fun. A sense that your personal exploration and your possibilities and the idea that it was all aligned somewhere inside of you, just on the edge of town. This was my big invitation to my audience, to myself, to anybody that was interested. My invitation to a long and very earthly journey, hopefully in the company of someone you love, people you love, and in search of a home you can feel a part of. Good luck.”Bruce Springsteen (61)
“[“You’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe you ain’t that young anymore.” What was that about? – Ed] The songs were written immediately after the Vietnam War and you forget, everybody felt like that then. It didn’t matter how old you were, everybody experienced a radical change in the image they had of their country and of themselves. You were going to be a different type of American than the generation that immediately preceded you. A radically different type, so that line was just recognizing that fact.”Bruce Springsteen (576)
“”Death to My Hometown” sounds like an Irish rebel song, but it’s all about what happened four years ago. I want to give people a sense that this is something that’s happened over and over and over again; what happened in 2008 [the financial crisis – Ed] happened before the turn of the century, and just after the turn of the century – it’s a repetitive, historical cycle that has basically landed on the heads of the same people.”Bruce Springsteen (63)
“Well, on the first half of the record [the album “Wrecking Ball” – Ed] you’re just pissed off. The first cut, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is where I set out the questions that I’m going to try to answer. The song’s chorus is posed as a challenge and a question. Do we take care of our own? What happened to that social contract? Where did that go over the past 30 years? How has it been eroded so terribly? And how is it that the outrage about that erosion is just beginning to be voiced right now? I’ve written about this stuff for those 30 years, from Darkness on the Edge of Town to The Ghost of Tom Joad through to today. It all came out of the Carter recession of the late Seventies, and when I was writing about that, my brother-in-law lost his construction job and went to work as a janitor in the local high school. It changed his life.”Bruce Springsteen (63)
“That’s the street criminalization of the big-money Wall Street hustle. That’s the guy that’s saying, “Everybody else is getting theirs, and not paying for it, I’m going out to get mine.” That hustle has been legitimized over the past four years, when you have the level of risk and greed at the top of the financial industry, and people basically walking away, relatively scot-free, completely unaccountable. That lack of accountability is the poison shot straight into the heart of the country. It goes back to Watergate. Watergate legitimized the hustle at the top of the game – it legitimized every street-corner thug. You almost had the country brought down by it, basically. All the radical hippies, longhairs – no one ever came as close to sinking the USA as the guys in the pinstriped suits.”Bruce Springsteen (63)
“I needed a strange kind of party to end the record [“Wrecking Ball” – Ed]. And “We Are Alive” provides that. It’s a party filled with ghosts. It’s a party filled with the dead, but whose voices and spirit and ideas remain with us and go on and on. That’s why I talk about the girls in Birmingham, the workers in Maryland and the new immigrants crossing the southern border. It’s just the recurrence and how the blood and spirit of all those people regenerate the country and what America is, generation after generation, so I end the record with a party of ghosts. Ghosts who are speaking to the living.”Bruce Springsteen (63)
“I wrote it after the end of the last tour, just after we entered Iraq. First thing you need is a good song title (you need a good metaphor.) Devils and Dust, that suggests confusion and this is a story about being placed in a situation where your choices are untenable, and the price that inflicts in blood and in spirit. [Explaining the lyrics – Ed]…
I got my finger on the trigger
But I don’t know who to trust
Bruce – I got the power of life and death here [in my finger – Ed]. In the first two lines of the song that’s where the personal aspect of the song and the political aspect kind of collide. I’m talking about him and I’m talking about us. A lot of what you need to know about the rest of the song is contained in the first two lines and has been played out over the last few years.
When I look into your eyes
There’s just devils and dust
Bruce – So when I’m looking at you, I don’t know if I’m seeing you, or if I’m seeing myself. I don’t know if I’m seeing my fears. I don’t know if I’m seeing my highest ideals that I have promised to sacrifice my life for and I don’t know if I’m seeing my death coming at me. And the problem is I have to know right now.
We’re a long, long way from home, Bobbie
Home’s a long, long way from us
Bruce – I’ve been separated from all the things that have given my life shape and meaning ’til now. My family, my home, my work – the things that ground me and that I recognize as myself.
I got God on my side
And I’m just trying to survive
What if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love
Bruce – that’s the personal and the political crashing again. What if what you do to stay alive destroys some part of you? Or, what if what we do destroys our ideals? As we sit here tonight, we’re experiencing an erosion of our civil liberties which is what I was thinking about when I was writing this chorus. Now your skin might be the right color so it’s unlikely to effect you but what’s been going on is very dangerous and very un-American.”Bruce Springsteen (61)
“I was sitting on my bed with a rhyming dictionary in one hand and a notebook in the other. I am in my apartment which is above an old abandoned beauty salon in Asbury Park and this is what happened. That’s a song that explains why I never take any drugs, I don’t think I could have stood it, my mind was already reeling. [Explaining the lyrics – Ed]…
Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
Bruce – Mad Dog Mr. Lopez, drummer in the E-Street Band [Vini Lopez 1972-74 – Ed]. The Indians were my little league team when I was a kid. The teenage diplomat, well that’s me.
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
Bruce – In the dumps with the mumps, I was diseased. Adolescent pumps…self-explanatory!
Cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Bruce – This was my only number 1 but it was recorded by Manfred Mann. Only thing was they changed this line. Mine was, ‘Cut loose like a deuce’ and their’s said, ‘Cut loose like a douche’. I have a feeling that that is why the song sky-rocketed to number 1! Deuce was like little deuce coupe, like two-seater hot rod. Douche of course is a feminine hygienic procedure, so they’re different but what can I say? The public spoke and they were right.
Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh, but Mama, that’s where the fun is
Bruce – That was where I wanted to go, I wanted to get blinded by the light, I wanted to do things I hadn’t done and see things I hadn’t seen. I was 23 years old, I wanted to create my own ridiculous language. So it was really a young musician’s tale, kind of a litany of adventures and rather autobiographical.”Bruce Springsteen (61)
“I’d been moved by the Terrence Malick film “Badlands” and I got interested in the story. There was book out at the time called Caril, about Charlie Starkweather’s partner [Read More on Caril – Ed] and just out of the blue I decided to call the newspaper in Nebraska. I called up and the woman who had reported the story was still there 30 years later. I got to speak to her and she was friendly and helpful. The song, well you can have a lot of details but unless you pull something up out of yourself, it’s just going to lie flat on the page. You have to find what you have in common with that character no matter who they are or what they did. “Nebraska” is a song written with the premise that everyone knows what it’s like to be condemned, which they do of course. The first five verses are reportorial. It’s spooky because I’m singing in the voice of the dead. The song takes place in a place where it’s quiet now, after the violence. Things kind of roll along until the end when something or someone else steps forward and that something else is me and you, and him.”Bruce Springsteen (61)