Born In The USA

“It was one of my first songs about Vietnam.”Bruce Springsteen (493)
“My soldier’s story. It was a protest song. It was a GI blues, the verses an accounting, the choruses a declaration of the one sure thing that could not be denied…birthplace. Birthplace, and the right to all of the blood confusion, blessings and grace that come with it. Having paid body and soul, you have earned, many times over, the right to claim and shape your piece of home ground.”Bruce Springsteen (1198)

The Wish

“That was a song about my mom. I wrote a lot about my dad. My mother was very consistent and we had a relationship that was easier to understand. It was nurturing and there was faith involved and support and a lot of giving love. That was something that I shied away from writing about. I think it’s easier to write about your dad in rock and roll than about your mother. “The Wish” was probably one of the most autobiographical songs I ever wrote. It was very detailed, incident by incident. It was a very defining moment [I was writing about]: standing in front of the music store with someone who’s going to do everything she can to give you what you needed and desired that day. It was a great sacrifice on her part. It was sixty dollars that was finance-company money.”Bruce Springsteen (493)

American Skin (41 Shots)

“[Inspired by the death of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean immigrant who was shot by NYC police officers during a confrontation in February of 1999 – Ed.] I think that it deals very directly with race, and that’s a subject that pushes a lot of buttons in America. It was asking some questions that were hanging very heavy in the air right now…[about] people of color in the United States who are viewed through a veil of criminality, who have been used to having their full citizenship, their full Americanship, denied. It’s one of the issues America is going to face in the next century. [Very prescient – Ed.]”Bruce Springsteen (494)
“The shooting of Amadou Diallo, an African immigrant, by plainclothes officers as he was reaching for his wallet seemed to underscore the danger and deadly confusion of roaming the inner-city streets in black skin that still existed in late-twentieth-century America. I wrote as thoughtfully as I could, trying to take in the perspective of not just the Diallo family but the officers as well. Though “American Skin” was critical, it was not anti-police, as some thought.”Bruce Springsteen (1197)

Your Own Worst Enemy

“I grew up catholic, and I suppose I go back to that for so much imagery in my music over the years. I was always interested in the spiritual background; it’s just what fascinates me. Like, hey, where’s the place you lose your soul, and how I do get there without falling in? Even something like “Your Own Worst Enemy,” where I use this pop Pet Sounds production, is all about self-subversion.”Bruce Springsteen (495)

The Wall

“”The Wall” is something I’d played on stage a few times and remains very close to my heart. The title and idea were Joe Grushecky’s, then the song appeared after Patti and I made a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. It was inspired by my memories of Walter Cichon. Walter was one of the great early Jersey Shore rockers, who along with his brother Ray (one of my early guitar mentors) led the “Motifs.” The Motifs were a local rock band who were always a head above everybody else. Raw, sexy and rebellious, they were the heroes you aspired to be. But these were heroes you could touch, speak to, and go to with your musical inquiries. Cool, but always accessible, they were an inspiration to me, and many young working musicians in 1960s central New Jersey. Though my character in “The Wall” is a Marine, Walter was actually in the Army, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry. He was the first person I ever stood in the presence of who was filled with the mystique of the true rock star. Walter went missing in action in Vietnam in March 1968. He still performs somewhat regularly in my mind, the way he stood, dressed, held the tambourine, the casual cool, the freeness. The man who by his attitude, his walk said “you can defy all this, all of what’s here, all of what you’ve been taught, taught to fear, to love and you’ll still be alright.” His was a terrible loss to us, his loved ones and the local music scene. I still miss him.”Bruce Springsteen (574)

Born To Run (The Album)

“I’d loosely imagined the Born to Run album as a series of vignettes taking place during one long summer day and night. It opens with the early morning harmonica of “Thunder Road”. You are introduced to the album’s central characters and its main proposition: do you want to take a chance? At record’s end, our lovers from “Thunder Road” have had their early hard-won optimism severely tested by the streets of my noir city. They’re left in fate’s hands, in a land where ambivalence reigns and tomorrow is unknown. In these songs were the beginnings of the characters whose lives I would trace in my work (along with the questions I’d be writing about – “I want to know if love is real”) for the next four decades. This was the album where I left behind my adolescent definitions of love and freedom; from here on in, it was going to be a lot more complicated.”Bruce Springsteen (1203)

Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

“It’s the story of a rock ’n’ roll band and our full-on block party.”Bruce Springsteen (1204)

Born To Run

“I wanted to make the greatest rock record that I’d ever heard, and I wanted it to sound enormous and I wanted it to grab you by your throat and insist that you take that ride, insist that you pay attention, not to just the music, but just to life, to feeling alive, to being alive. That was sort of what the song was asking, and it was taking a step out into the unknown. And that’s the big difference, say, between “Born to Run” and “Born in the U.S.A.” “Born in the U.S.A” was obviously about standing someplace. “Born to Run” wasn’t; it was about searching for that place. It was a moment when I was young and that’s what I was doing. I was very untethered and you had a rough map and you were about to set out in search of your frontier — personally and emotionally — and everything was very, very wide open. And that’s how the record felt, just wide open, full of possibilities, full of fear, you know, but that’s life. I think that those emotions and those desires — and it was a record of enormous longing, tremendous longing — that never leaves you. You’re dead when that leaves you. It’s just about, “Hey, you’re gonna take that step into the next day and nobody knows what tomorrow brings.” No one can know that. And so the song continues to speak to that part of you — it transcends your age and continues to speak to that part of you that is both exhilarated and frightened about what tomorrow brings. It’ll always do that, that’s how it was built.”Bruce Springsteen (576)
“‘Born To Run’ was about New York. I was there for months. I had this girl with me and she’d just come from Texas and she wanted to go home again and she was going nuts and we were in this room and it just went on and on. I would come home and she would say ‘Are you done? Is it over? Are you finished?’ And I said ‘No, it ain’t over, it ain’t over.’ I’d come home practically in tears. And I was sort of into that whole thing of being nowhere. But knowing that there is something someplace. It’s got to be like right there. It’s got to be tight somewhere.”Bruce Springsteen (978)

Meeting Across The River

“There was that New York–New Jersey, big-time/small-time thing, you know? It’s funny, because back then, when you lived in New Jersey, you could’ve been a million miles from New York City and yet it was always there. By that time, I think we’d been counted out, and it probably had something to do with that, a feeling I had about myself maybe, that you’d been underestimated. Most of the folks that go into my business have had the experience of someone counting them out, or of being underestimated, of someone judging your life as being without great value. So that song grew out of, “Hey, that guy’s sort of a small-time player, but he’s still got his sights set on what’s across that river.” I suppose that was where the emotions of it came from.”Bruce Springsteen (576)


“That song came from youth, the beach, the night, friendships, the feeling of being an outcast and kind of living far away from things in this little outpost in New Jersey. It’s also about a place of personal refuge. It wasn’t a specific relationship or anything that brought the song into being.”Bruce Springsteen (853)

Mary’s Place

“I think that’s what you saw at the time, people were making that effort to celebrate and it was helpful. The idea of the song was to capture that thing. I wanted it to really feel like home. It’s a throwback to ‘Rosalita’ almost, and I wanted the band to feel the way people remembered that it felt at a certain time and I was singing a certain way. It comes up about three-quarters of the way through the record, right after ‘The Fuse’, which is really sonically different for us, and all of a sudden people would feel like, hey, that’s your own pals putting their arms around you and you’ve got a place to go and somebody to talk to and be with. That’s kind of what our band has been for people and what we’ve wanted to be for people over the years. The song comes up at a particular place on the record, it’s that open-arms-of-home feeling.”Bruce Springsteen (980)


“When I wrote ‘Paradise’, I was looking for something kind of really quiet, and I think it was the week there’d been the teenage girl suicide bombers. It was devastating, and so the first verse came out of thinking about that, the loss of life and the false paradise. Then I’d met a woman who had lost her husband at the Pentagon, and she came to Asbury one night, and they were just long-time fans I guess. I think I was thinking of that woman when I wrote the song, which is why it switches from Virginia, because I wanted something that was outside the United States, the larger feeling of the effect of what’s going on in the world outside the States. Again I thought, ‘What do you miss?’ You miss the physicalness and the ability to touch somebody. I’ve had people close to me who died. I remember when I was young, that aching to touch the person again was very, very strong and it was very painful to realize that it just couldn’t happen. And the last verse is a survivor’s verse, where I think your desire to join the people you’ve lost is very strong. You have the situation where the person goes to that river, it’s the river of transition between life and death and they wade into it and they take themselves underneath. Somewhere in that nether world they see the person and it kinda comes up with that last line – they’re searching for the peacefulness that people feel comes with death and passing on, or with an imagined version of paradise that you’ll attain, and they get close enough and they just see emptiness. There’s a lot of different ways people could interpret it. I always felt it was, ‘Hey, life is here. It’s all you have and it’s here and now’. In the last couple of lines the person swims to the surface and feels the sun. That was my last song of the record.”Bruce Springsteen (980)
“It was a study of different impressions of an afterlife. In the first verse, a young Palestinian suicide bomber contemplates his last moments on Earth. In the second, a Navy wife longs for her late husband lost at the Pentagon, the absence of the physical, the smells, the human longing for a return to wholeness. In the last verse, my character swims deep into the water between worlds, where he confronts his lost love, whose eyes are “as empty as paradise.” The dead have their own business to do, as do the living.”Bruce Springsteen (1199)