Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm Goin' Down by Bruce Springsteen

There’s a lot of reasons that I want to be like Bruce Springsteen when I grow up. One of the main reasons is because he has so much fun doing what he loves.

Seriously, look how much fun he’s having during the last chorus. You can’t fake that kind of joy.

Watching this recent performance of “I’m Goin’ Down” it’s clear that he is having the time of his life. Springsteen has many different songs that cover so many different styles and watching Springsteen perform this album cut from Born In The U.S.A. reminded me of another layer of this amazing artistry.

“I’m Goin’ Down,” is a simpler song than “Thunder Road,” or “The Rising.” It has a simply four chord pattern that is repeated through out the song and the melody, while catchy doesn’t have a lot to going on. Sometimes Springsteen channels Bob Dylan, sometimes he channels Motown artists like Smokey Robinson. With “I’m Goin’ Down,” Springsteen is challenging The Beatles when they first came to America in 1964.

You can hear it in the structure of the melody and even see it in in the way Springsteen bobs his head side to side just like Paul did back in the day.  There’s an innocent joy in this song that is reminiscent the youthful joy that The Beatles came across the ocean with and inspired many American including Springsteen himself to be a musician.

The lyrics of “I’m Goin’ Down,” are kind of . . . down. He’s singing about a passion that has fizzled. There’s no turn around in this song or resolution. It just goes on and on about how things aren’t going very well. So what is Springsteen so happy about?

This song isn’t one of those “let’s sing a happy song with sad lyrics to deal with the pain” –songs. It’s more like “hey, there are these issues, but I’m naive enough and young enough to think that my pleas will turn you around, because chances are you are actually still into me, but you’re just playing a game, right?" It’s capturing a level of innocence and hopefulness, which from an older perspective seems ludicrous, but hey, that’s what it means to be young.

Another way you can look at this song is a man getting payback and stating “look, at what I used to do for you, if you’re not careful, you will loose this amazing man you see before you.” “My kisses used to turn you inside out,” has a sly wink, which makes this song feel more like a flirtatious game then a reflection of a relationship falling apart.

It’s so remarkable how a song can feel so good and be about something that doesn’t seem that happy. In some ways, this dichotomy makes the song even more joyful. There’s dirtiness and there's tension.  It’s not an ideal love, it’s something you can relate to. All relationships ebb and flow and we fight to stay in the game because of how good we know it can be.

That’s really what this song is about. It’s about that feeling that is lost but brings us so much joy in our memory that we can’t help but smile when we think about it even when we are faced with sadness.

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