Monday, April 19, 2010

Bruce Springsteen “Independence Day”

PJ is taking some time off for the birth of his second child. Friend of mvyradio Susan McDonald and singer-songwriter and former Fresh Produce Artist, Phil Ayoub, both major Springsteen Fans, fill in.

Five Great Bruce Springsteen Songs About Fathers And Sons.


Early in his career, Bruce Springsteen wrote about “growin’ up,” often with words and music filled with anger and bravado. In “Independence Day,” it all seems to mellow to a quiet, resigned declaration of independence. It is a poignant narrative of a son breaking free from his father and most likely draws on a lot of real life experience from Springsteen.

The opening organ strains and the lyrics hint at the bittersweet nature of this independence. There doesn’t seem to be any joy in it; this is no “pulling out of here to win,” but rather a story of leaving because your old man is driving you crazy, the town you live in has left him beaten down and defeated, and that’s not going to happen to you. At the heart of the song is the sad realization that his own happiness can only be found by leaving his father behind.

Still, there’s an acceptance of some of the blame (“we were just too much of the same kind”), and a tender tone created by the role-reversal of lines like “Papa go to bed now, it’s getting late” and “so say goodbye, it’s Independence Day.” (Springsteen walks dangerously close to the line of obvious cliché with the “Independence Day” double meaning, but he is skilled enough not to cross that line.)

The song ends with the lines “Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say…I swear I never meant to take those things away.” And yet, he’s “leaving in the morning from Saint Mary’s Gate,” most likely taking many of those things with him (and, yes, Bruce does manage to work “Mary” into yet another song!).

All that being said, this is a song whose impact is not just lyrical. The organ, the sax solo, the tempo, and the lyrics, combine to create a whole that is more than the sum of its parts—stirring, emotional, tender, painful and sad, but very real.


“Independence Day”, November 8, 2009 at Madison Square Garden. It was played as part of a performance of the entire album of "The River":

3 comments:

  1. Nicely done, Salty Sue!
    Each time I hear the song,I always see the image of Bruce & his dad about in opposite corners of rooms in that small house in Freehold. Always in black & white, always with Dad holding a cigarette. Lyrics with music don't get any better than that.

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  2. Such a great blog! I love Bruce Springsteen and I can't wait for The Promise to come out next week!!!!!

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  3. My favorite Springsteen song of all...
    "There was just no way this house could hold the two of us".
    Poignant, sad, beautiful.

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