The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, by Liz Arcury

The following are excerpts of reviews of some selected songs of Mr. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

“4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973)

With this album, Mr. Springsteen is exploring a newer, slower – yet explosive – sonic sexuality that America did not know was coming. After collaborating with various music historians who were active at the time of the album’s release, we have concluded that the second track, “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” might be based on the non-fictional, existent location on the northern shore of New Jersey known as Asbury Park.

“Badlands,” Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

This one has very sincere undertones of the singer’s personal history. Perhaps, where he grew up? We are given very little, and it is not clearly stated (and, need we remind ourselves of the value of ambiguity in art?) but “Badlands” could very well be about New Jersey, the home state of Mr. Springsteen.

“Streets of Fire,” Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

The streets and the fire are both located inside of New Jersey.

Nebraska (1982)

Not wanting to implode as a result of the “next big thing,” or “flash in the pan” genres of hype that we see envelop a talented musician all too often, Bruce transitioned to a quieter, more docile feel with Nebraska in 1982. Poignantly reflecting on the pain of lost love and the confusion of an existence after you have achieved everything you thought life had in store for you, Bruce made waves with this thoughtful album. Even though it is called Nebraska, all of the songs are about a different state called New Jersey.

“Working on the Highway,” Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

The highway may very well be a metaphor for the endless drudge of a middle-class working life, unforgiving in its honesty. If this one was not a hit for you on the first listen, I highly recommend going back with fresh ears, along with this analytic perspective that I am presenting to you: that the highway is a highway in New Jersey.

“My Hometown,” Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

Emulating the working man’s everyday struggle to merely survive, this song stalwartly stands the test of the fickle wench known as time. It also has strong, strong elements of the “New Jersey” thing.

Liz Arcury is a comedian and writer attending college in Boston. Her work has been published on McSweeney’s, CollegeHumor, Weird Girls, and Thought Catalog. You can find more of her writing at and you can follow her on Twitter.

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The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, by Liz Arcury