Oh, radio, radio, today’s sound salvation is one of the classics, “Born To Run” — Bruce Springsteen’s 1975 smash ode to getting the hell out of town. It came on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current today, just after 10:30 a.m.
There’s undoubtedly reams upon stacks of writing on the song — desperation set to expansive music: a Dylanesque language chandelier shattering on a Wall of Sound.
It is, I would argue, a successful attempt at a “big song,” like “Hey Ya!” by Outkast or many such tunes from “The Joshua Tree” era U2.
Before I get too far down the turnpike writing about Bruce and “Born To Run” (oh, it’s tempting, so, so tempting), I’m going to exit at my favorite line in the song.
If you dig, like way down in the hole dig, lyrical masterworks such as “Visions of Johanna’ by Bob Dylan or “Don’t Believe the Hype” by Public Enemy, you likely can quote back to me a favorite line.
A favorite literature professor of mine, Richard Cunningham, said that once about “Absalom, Absalom!,” that if you take a trip into Faulkner’s linguistic world, you come back with a souvenir.
So it is with “Born to Run.”
The line I love is this: “Wendy, let me in I want to be your friend/ I want to guard your dreams and visions.”
Isn’t that a terribly nice thing to say to someone and to offer to do?
First, it the the “guard” that gets me. It’s sound writing, much like my favorite line in Springsteen’s “The Ties That Bind,” — ‘Who’s going to quiet your pain.” It’s not ease your pain, it’s quiet your pain. It’s better.
It’s not important that we learn what Wendy’s dream and visions happen to be; it’s that whatever they might be, they matter. They are precious.
There’s also the idea that Wendy isn’t completely sold on this guy, and she’s holding back a bit.
It’s an acknowledgement bravery of falling in love with someone.
It’s not just who you are, it’s how you see yourself. It’s not just what you’re done, but all you hope to do.
Maybe it’s that Wendy and this guy are young and that road stretches to the offing. But does that feeling go away? I don’t know. I hope not.
Your visions and dreams change, but the person that loves you stands guard.
That’s really what a good song can do — if “Born To Run” if it’s anything it’s a good song — it emulates the space where the past and future whirl around, potential energy for a last chance power drive.