Darkness on the Edge of Town: Homage to The Boss

This post started as something completely different, but it swung like a compass needle toward something I truly love – the music of Bruce Springsteen.

I blog about all sorts of things that interest me, that I enjoy, that make me laugh. I sometimes write about ambitions and guiding philosophies, which are very important, but strangely, I have neglected how much music means to me.

I’ve been a huge Springsteen fan since I first picked up Greetings From Asbury Park in 1973. The man should be Poet Laureate of America, for as someone observed, who else can make you feel nostalgia for New Jersey?


I started the morning intending to post on two very significant articles I read in the last two days on structural, rather than cyclical, unemployment in this country.  This is something I think about often because my career in technology spanned the revolution that made it so easy to “offshore” and eliminate so many vocations.  Show of hands, how many are reading this on a computer that was assembled in the US?  As I thought, not a one.

The following are very good articles, that point out that we have a real problem that cannot even be addressed until it is acknowledged, which politicians have yet to do:

“Where the Jobs Aren’t:  Grappling With Structural Unemployment,” by Zachary Karabell, Time, January 17, 1011.

“Many Jobs Gone Forever Despite Onset of Recovery,” by Darry Sragow, The Sacramento Bee, Jan. 8, 2011,

As usual, however, poets see things before others, and Springsteen has been telling us since 1978 that we have a darkness at the edge of town.


What follows is a blatant excuse to upload some really good music – kind of like a Blues Brothers movie, where anything resembling a plot is secondary.

Here is an anthem everyone loves, perhaps because so few of us live in the place where we grew up.  Yet “My Hometown,” 1984, explicitly laid out the issue of “structural unemployment” a quarter of a century ago:

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back

A poet will also recognize how work is much more than balance sheets and GDP; it touches every aspect of individual and family life.  From “The River,” 1980, live at Glastonbury:

I remember us riding in my brother’s car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse…

And finally, two more recent favorites, from the 1995 album, “The Ghost of Tom Joad.  They are self-explanatory.

Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin’ in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad

And from the same album, “Youngstown,” performed in Youngstown, Ohio:

From the Monongaleh valley
To the Mesabi iron range
To the coal mines of Appalacchia
The story’s always the same
Seven-hundred tons of metal a day
Now sir you tell me the world’s changed
Once I made you rich enough
Rich enough to forget my name

And finally, to end on an upbeat note, a favorite recent Springsteen cut, performed live in London, 2007 I believe.  This is “The Sessions Band,” assembled for “The Seeger Sessions,” a CD tribute to the music of Pete Seeger on the occasion of his 90th birthday.  That recording, and “Live in Dublin,” are a can’t-sit-still mix of folk, rock, gospel, and jazz music.

God gave Noah the rainbow sign
“No more water but fire next time”
Pharaoh’s army got drownded
O Mary don’t you weep


If this appeals, be sure to check out The Boss’s web page: http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s