Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thunder Road - Part 1: Magic In The Night

To celebrate my 300th post on this blog I presented “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen.  I felt that post did this song justice embracing all of what this song meant to me by letting the song speak for itself.

Lately I’ve felt myself drawn to this song. It’s like I need this song in my life right now. Maybe it’s my grandmother dying, becoming comfortable being thirty, or the other changes in my life. I’m not sure. But I’m finding what I’m searching for in my life in this song now more than ever.

I have hesitated to write about this song because it so magical and I fear that I lack the skills to really articulate everything that this song is about. It’s time to not be afraid and to look deep within this song. To know what a song is about is to know what it means and it is within this meaning that we find ourselves.



It starts with an invitation, a guitar and piano ascending carefully, dancing and flowing in and out of each other. “Thunder Road’s” introduction is one of the most famous album openings. As the first track on Springsteen’s pivotal album Born To Run, “Thunder Road” was the entry point into a universe of characters that would encapsulate everything that is rock music.

With each line Springsteen paints a vivid picture. The sound of a screen door, the waving of a vision of grace as Mary comes into our world. Originally, this girl was Angelina and then Christina but in the end Springsteen settled on Mary. This name brings forth images of the innocent virgin carrying an unimaginable burden to the mother watching her only son suffer. These visions mix together with a girl standing nervously facing the road ahead.

One of the ways that you know that you are in love is when love songs begin to make sense. As our unnamed protagonist identifies with Orbison’s song for the lonely we know there is something immediate and powerful about his feelings. He begs for her not to leave him because he “can’t face myself alone again.” She’s turned him home and he’s tried to imagine his life without her that he can’t.

She has doubts. Maybe she’s not that young girl, the idea woman. He begs her to have faith and believe in him. When he says that she “ain’t a beauty,” he isn't saying that he doesn’t think she’s pretty. Instead he’s embracing what she is, not the woman she wishes she could be.

The song starts by setting a scene and switches perspectives through Orbison’s song to this man speaking to a girl. These words reveal a vulnerability and a passion. He’s trying to convince her to come with him because there is something that she brings to the way he sees himself that he can’t live without.  Also, he believes there is something that he can give her that no one else can.

In the opening of "Thunder Road," our main character embraces everything that this girl is, her doubts and her fears because he has faith.  He knows that there is something there between them and that there is magic in the night.

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