October 29, 2009

Bruce Springsteen//Johnny 99

When I was writing about Kurt Vile yesterday, I went to link to my Bruce Springsteen post...and then realized I didn't have a Bruce Springsteen post. WHAT?! How could this be true!? I'm from Jersey; I love Bruce Springsteen. It's, like, in my DNA.

Actually, maybe that's not exactly true because one of my best high school-era friends, Paige, didn't like The Boss. She didn't like him so much that she threatened to make a tee-shirt with the words "Not My Boss" set underneath a screen-printed picture of The Boss. How rude. Still, that's a funny idea for a tee-shirt. She never made it, but if she had, I would have worn it. Maybe I would have X'ed out the word "Not" with a sharpie, because that was how I rolled at the time--altering tee-shirts with scissors, sharpies and patches. Punk! And because that dude IS my Boss. Duh.

Nebraska is one of my favorite albums OF ALL TIME. It's moody and gritty and lofi and lonely. It was recorded on a four-track, meant initially to be demos for the next album with The E Street Band, but Springsteen was hellaciously depressed when he wrote it, so it just sounded weird and wrong with the band. It was decided that the album would be realized as it was...and each song is its own brilliant and dark portrait of America.

This song is especially relevant right now. It's about recession, poverty and what it does to people in America. Johnny lost his job at the auto plant (in Mahwah!) and ends up robbing a store and shooting a dude in process. Not to say that Johnny was in the right, but society also plays a role.

Well, new numbers are pointing to the fact that the recession might be over. I hope that's true, but it's not to say that plenty of Americans aren't already in some pretty desperate situations. I know there's been a lot of shitty violence in my hood lately. Fingers crossed that everyone can hold out until the positive change actually starts to get down to the ground level. This song is all about the stress of this situation--feeling powerless and trapped, on the wrong side of that great big beautiful American dream.

Johnny 99.mp3

Now judge, I had debts no honest man could pay.
The bank was holdin' my mortgage and they were gonna take my house away.
Now I ain't sayin' that makes me an innocent man,
But it was more than all this that put that gun in my hand.

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