Noir Poets: Bruce Springsteen

Atlantic City

Well, they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night
Now, they blew up his house, too
Down on the boardwalk they’re gettin’ ready for a fight
Gonna see what them racket boys can do

Now, there’s trouble bustin’ in from outta state
And the DA can’t get no relief
Gonna be a rumble out on the promenade
And the gamblin’ commissioner’s hangin’ on by the skin of his teeth

Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City

Well, I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that coast city bus

Now, baby, everything dies, honey, that’s a fact…

Now our luck may have died and our love may be cold
But with you forever I’ll stay
Were goin’ out where the sands turnin’ to gold
Put on your stockin’s baby, `cause the night’s getting cold
And maybe everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back

Now, I been lookin’ for a job, but it’s hard to find
Down here it’s just winners and losers and don’t
Get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well, I’m tired of comin’ out on the losin’ end
So, honey, last night I met this guy and I’m gonna
Do a little favor for him

Well, I guess everything dies, baby, that’s a fact…

– Bruce Springsteen (1982)

8 thoughts on “Noir Poets: Bruce Springsteen”

  1. Well, Sir, as a Garden State resident, I have felt and seen the magic of The Boss for decades. I won’t soon forget the obsession some close friends had in the years of BORN TO RUN, when I was regaled with endless cassette tapes of the album, playing continuously during the time we held season tickets to the New York Islanders hockey team in their Stanley Cup prominence. “Jungleland,” “Thunder Road,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Backstreets” and the title track literally wore out because of repeated playing, and while I was not the fan one close friend was, I grew to appreciate the music, which Springsteen himself wanted to sound like ‘Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan.’ The album of course is one of the most popular of all-time, and it brought the singer/lyricist a mainstream popular that cemeted his legendary status. Some friends feel that Springsteen did better work on other albums, (and a few don’t even care for BORN TO RUN) but there’s no denying it’s musical fortitude.

    Is he a noir poet, and should he be included in this esteemed series?

    You bet. He’s a poet from rock’s Golden years, as these searing and profound lyrics here attest to.


  2. Hi! Tony…
    Nice lyrics by singer/writer Bruce Springsteen…Unfortunately, I’am not familiar with his music yet…with “yet” being the operative word, but his words are very… poetic.
    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee 😉 🙂


  3. Hello & thanks

    I remember reading somewhere that prior to recording Darkness on the edge of town that Springsteen had been given a book on film noir – possibly by his manager – that profoundly influenced him. do you happen to know what that book was?



  4. Sarle, this is what Springsteen said in an interview with Adrian Wootton at the UK premiere of the doco “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town” at the BFI in London in early November and transcribed here

    Wootton: In the documentary, you talk about how film was a massive inspiration for your song writing at that time. Could you say something about that?

    Springsteen: I hadn’t gotten too much into film by my mid-twenties. I was strictly fuelled by what I heard on the radio. But when I felt that I had digested a lot of what I could get out of music, I did move towards film and [books]. Noir was particularly interesting to me because it’s a world where people are always being pulled apart. In James M Cain and Jim Thompson novels, the divided mind is a huge part of the psychological life of those characters and that’s how I always felt. So I was drawn to it. Film noir was adult, country music was adult. I was feeling those tensions and I was interested in making rebellious adult music, and the tensions in those films and novels of the time felt very close to my own psychology. So a lot of Darkness on the Edge of Town is straight out of a noir title. I was moved by all of those pictures and I wanted my characters to have that kind of existential complexity.


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