Saturday, February 21, 2009
Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
I've basically immersed myself in this song for the past couple days in hopes of being able to do it justice but every single time I listen to it I hear a little something that I didn't quite catch on the previous listen. I'll add here that I'm not a big Springsteen guy... I don't pull the Rolling Stone magazine treatment and instantly canonize everything that he does, in fact I've found a large percentage of his recent output condescendingly rootsy and disingenuous. It almost seems like he's making music for a working class that hasn't existed since the early 80s and he's become so out of touch that he doesn't realize he's championing an industrial middle class that isn't even real. That bit of Springsteen bashing aside though, in looking at this song and a handful of his others* you realize that as a songwriter, when The Boss was on, only Dylan was better.**
Never was Bruce more "on" than on his 1975*** release Born to Run on which the classic romantic-in-its-realism love song "Thunder Road" appears. This song doesn't make you love Mary (its object of affection) like Buddy Holly makes you love Peggy Sue or like The Four Tops make you love Bernadette but instead you just knowingly nod assent at why Bruce is so into her despite the fact that, "[she] ain't a beauty but hey [she's] alright" because we've all had this kind of object of our own affection. The girl who is the proverbial bee in your bonnet... the one that as hard as you TRY to win over just isn't buying what you're selling or worse doesn't even see you like you see her... so you're left to do one of two things lay it all out there or fantasize about laying it all out there while doing absolutely nothing. In this track, at least for me, I don't think it's all that clear what Bruce actually decides to do after the screen door slams. Is the rest of the song him running after her and laying his plans on the line in truly romantic fashion or is it the fantasy sequence of events that plays in his head as he drives away unfulfilled as some nutless wimp. Maybe it's just me****, but I like the pathos of option #2. I mean how many times have you***** walked away from a girl just KILLING yourself over you inability to make her SEE that you could have a good thing and that no matter how long she "prays in vain for a savior to rise from these streets" and even though you're "no hero that's understood" that you can offer "redemption."
I tell ya man, I can't figure out if this song is jubilant or depressing as hell and that makes me love it even more. All I know is that while Bruce was listening to Roy Orbison sing for the lonely, all of us... we need to be listening to Bruce Springsteen.
*Born to Run, The River, Badlands, Dancing in the Dark, Rosalita, etc.
** just barely
*** seriously I was shocked when I was reminded of this... 1975? REALLY? This album could have been made yesterday and it would be totally new and game changing and incredible... but in 1975^? This album would have blown off the top of the 1975 version of me's head.
^ an incredible year for music, Blood on the Tracks, Physical Grafitti, Wish You Were Here, Patti Smith's Horses, and Roxy Music's Siren were all released in 75 and hilariously the Album of the Year Grammy went to Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years and the Record of the Year went to.... wait for it... "Love Will Keep Us Together" by The Captain and Tenille. HUZZAH RIAA!!!
**** it is
***** read: have I^
^ so many times I've lost count