The River

I Got Some Beer and the Highway's Free

Song: Sherry, DarlingAlbum: The River Year: 1980

Well this is all a lot of raucous fun, but if my boyfriend abandoned my mother on the highway—my unemployed mother, who is obviously having a tough go of it as it is—I would not be all revved up to go have a fun night of drinking and driving with him. Also, it seems like part of his plan for this romantic date is to go ogle girls at the beach. Who is this guy? How did we wind up together? I've made some huge mistakes and need to seriously re-evaluate my life choices.

It reminds me of that Jimmy Soul song, "If You Wanna Be Happy." Both appear to be recorded in front of a live studio audience who are having the best time hearing about women being belittled. I choose to believe that Bruce is in a bit of a character for this one: the Springsteen Id, if you will. Real Bruce doesn't build up this anger and anxiety over familial responsibility; he does what he needs to do (help a down-on-her-luck woman collect a meagre unemployment allowance to help her scrape by as she looks for more work in this economy) and releases any tension out over a sweet sax solo. LIKE A MAN.

Rating: 6 out of 10 blocks that Big Mean Bruce Springsteen made an elderly woman walk in the hot sun.

This makes me feel: like rolling my eyes at the cliche of the big-mouth mother-in-law, but in a way that's secretly in-time to the music because it's just a good song and we all know eyeballs just can't resist a groove.

Fun Bruce fact: Another Bruce Springsteen blog, Burgers and Bruce, reports on The Boss's fave way to dress a 'burg: "A burger in 1950s America. It's nothing like what you get now. A thin little patty, squirted with ketchup, and that's the only type of burger there was." This is the kind of investigative journalism I can get behind.

You're Walkin' Tough, Baby

Song: The Ties That Bind
Album: The River
Year: 1980

I can't tell if this song is celebrating the ties that bind or is warning of their restrictive power, because of the thick, delicious musk of melancholy that envelopes all of The Boss' songs. Either way, diggin' it, so bind me up with a side of ties, good sir! It apparently was written while on the road touring, which explains the relatively simple lyrics—the E Street Band probably makes B leave his thesaurus at home (rude).

This song hits that Springsteen sweet spot: it's poetic without being wordy, less than six minutes long, and mentions both "running" and "the rain"(two common thematic elements in his work that are not trains). And yeah, there's a saxophone solo for no good reason, in case you'd forgotten that this is Bruce goddamn Springsteen. It's a masterpiece, and I am not surprised that 12 years later The Cure would attempt to start off "Friday I'm in Love" with an almost identical guitar riff. (You thought no one would notice because you kept the hot sax licks out of it, but I'm on to you, Robert Smith. You can't just slip one by Bruce Springsteen's #1 fan and best friend* like that.)(*pending)

M02204g_Springsteen
M02204g_Springsteen

Rating: 9 out of 10 long dark highways, connecting your heart to mine. This makes me feel: real fi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-iiiiine. Fun Bruce Fact: The Ties That Bind is also the title of an encyclopedia about Bruce Springsteen. Imagine being so accomplished that someone makes an encyclopedia about you. New goal.