Saturday, February 21, 2004

Verse d’jour

I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere and you know it's hard to hold your breath
I lost everything I ever loved or feared, I was the cosmic kid in full costume dress
Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth but I got me a nice place in the stars
I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car
I hid in the mother breast of the crowd but when they said “pull down” I pulled up
Ooh ... growin' up
Ooh ... growin' up
— “Growin’ Up,” The Boss, © 1972
Did I mention that I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan? This particular tune originally appeared on the lp Welcome to Ashbury Park, NJ, I still have the vinyl to prove it. However, I just copied the lyrics from the cd booklet for 18 Tracks. Listened to this tune as I was getting dressed. I was especially struck by the second and third lines, which seem to me to echo our friend Walt Whitman.

This cd is filled with rarities (I primarily bought it for "The Fever"), including an early recording of "Born in the U.S.A." Sounds like it was taped in the same living room Bruce recorded Nebraska in. The concerns are similar to that seminal recording, also: the song opens with the line "Born down in a dead man's town." Does that sound like Reagan's fantasy America to you? Then the second verse: "I got into a little hometown jab / And so they put a rifle in my hands / Sent me off to Vietnam / To go and kill the yellow man." Thing is, you can hear the hopelessness in this recording. It's easy to see how Reagan's people missed the point when they heard the single version, with the pounding drums and defiant guitars.

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