Who's the Boss
"A good song takes on more meaning as the years pass by," Bruce Springsteen said not too long ago. That certainly applies to the Springsteen classics, which range from melancholy ballads to rock and roll anthems. Here, for his 69th birthday, is the best of Bruce.
"Thunder Road" (1975)
"It's a town full of losers / And I'm pulling out of here to win"
The screen door slams, but the road ahead is wide open for tramps who were born to run.
"Out in the Street" (1980)
"When I'm out in the street / I walk the way I wanna walk / When I'm out in the street / I talk the way I wanna talk"
A blue-collar declaration of independence after the workday is done. Four minutes of sheer, unadulterated bliss.
"I wanna go out tonight / I wanna find out what I got"
Another road trip into the heart of darkness, fueled by nothing more than grit, spit and a dream built on faith, love and "the hope that can save me." Happy trails.
"I ain't here for business / I'm only here for fun"
This show-stopping fiesta is packed with characters boasting colorful street names like Dynamite, Little Gun, Jack the Rabbit and Weak Knees Willie. But the wily narrator outshines them all, babbling a mile a minute as he sweet talks his way into Rosie's heart. Hold tight, baby.
"The River" (1980)
"Then I got Mary pregnant / And, man, that was all she wrote"
Teenage newlyweds find themselves lying on the banks of a washed-up dream, drowning in commitment and a flood of regrets.
"The poets down here don't write nothing at all / They just stand back and let it all be"
Who would ever believe that the ultimate rock opera would be staged in New Jersey beneath a giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light.
"Prove It All Night" (1978)
"Everybody's got a hunger, a hunger they can't resist"
It's not a love song. It's a sex romp, a mating call from a guy dangling promises of "a gold ring and pretty dress of blue" in exchange for "just one kiss … to seal our fate tonight." The heat of the moment explodes in a screaming, unrestrained guitar solo that proves it all night, every night.
"Tougher Than the Rest" (1987)
"Well, there's another dance / All you gotta do is say yes / And if you're rough and ready for love / Honey, I'm tougher than the rest"
Arguably, Springsteen's most mature love song. Sugarcoated odes to cars and girls are swept away by a straight-talking Romeo offering a challenge instead of a come-on.
"Born in the U.S.A" (1984)
"Had a brother at Khe Sahn, fighting off the Viet Cong / They're still there, he's all gone"
A cool, rocking daddy in the U.S.A. contemplates the spoils of war, with nowhere to run and nowhere to go.
"Growin' Up" (1973)
"When they said, 'Sit down,' I stood up"
Ah, the arrogance of youth. On his debut album, a Jersey boy offers greetings from Asbury Park, combs his hair "till it was just right," and swears, "I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car." Springsteen has been revving that motor ever since then.
"Tunnel of Love" (1987)
"You've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above / If you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love"
Love is all fun and games until a descent into darkness turns home sweet home into a haunted house.
"Sherry Darling" (1980)
"Well, I got some beer and the highway's free / And I got you and, baby, you got me"
Hey, hey, hey. Whaddaya say when your sweetheart's mom takes all the fun out of a hot summer day?
"Bobby Jean" (1984)
"I'm just calling one last time / Not to change your mind, but just to say I miss you, baby / Good luck, goodbye"
Learning to let go when you discover that someone you love was born to run.
"Brilliant Disguise" (1987)
"I wanna know if it's you I don't trust / 'Cause I damn sure don't trust myself"
One can only imagine the shudder that rumbled through Julianne Phillips' heart when her husband of two years revealed his darkest secrets inside their very own tunnel of love. She filed for divorce less than a year later.
"Johnny 99" (1982)
"Now, judge, I got debts no honest man can pay"
Mixing Tangueray and wine doesn't help the cause when the future is as bleak as a life sentence.
"Racing in the Street" (1978)
"We only run for the money, got no strings attached / We shut 'em up and then we shut 'em down"
Cool cars and fast money on the road to nowhere. What a drag.
"I Wish I Were Blind" (1992)
"We struggle here but all our love's in vain / Oh, these eyes that once filled me with your beauty / Now fill me with pain"
Seeing is believing, even if that 20/20 vision makes you want to rip your eyes out.
"The Rising" (2002)
"A dream of life comes to me / Like a catfish dancin' on the end of my line"
Keeping the faith in a post-9/11 world, Springsteen extends a steady helping hand. "Sky of longing and emptiness," he prays. "Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life." Come on up.
"The Promised Land" (1978)
"Gonna be a twister to blow everything down / That ain't got the faith to stand its ground"
Every act of creation begins with an act of destruction. Blow away the dreams that break your heart.
"Born to Run" (1975)
"Together, Wendy, we can live with the sadness / I'll love you with all the madness in my soul"
The screen door that slammed in "Thunder Road" blows wide open as Wendy contemplates accepting the invitation for the ride of her life.
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