Song of the Day #1,257: ‘Long Walk Home’ – Bruce Springsteen

In the late 2000’s, Bruce Springsteen went on a tear, releasing four studio albums in five years. I’m skipping over one of those — We Shall Overcome: The Pete Seeger Sessions — in order to wrap things up this week.

That record is Springsteen’s only album of non-original material. It features covers of a dozen folk and protest songs made popular by Pete Seeger. It’s a great listen and features some terrific musical interplay with a group of musicians Springsteen assembled for the cause, but I’m sticking to Springsteen’s own songs during this three-week series.

We Shall Overcome served as a bridge between Devils & Dust and the 2007 release Magic. And its 60s protest singer vibe makes a fitting segue because Magic turns out be Springsteen’s most political album yet. He had certainly touched on politics, and particularly the plight of the lower class, before but on this album he got pretty direct. Coming at the tail end of Bush’s second term, it’s no wonder.

Magic features a song called ‘Last to Die’ (as in “who’ll be the last to die for a mistake”), presumably an echo of the words uttered by former presidential candidate John Kerry about the Vietnam War. Springsteen had campaigned for Kerry and his disillusionment at how that turned out shines through on many of Magic‘s tracks.

Among my favorites is ‘Long Walk Home,’ a rocking but mournful ode to a spirit that seems to me missing in action in America since the mid-2000’s. Toward the end of the song, Springsteen references the ugly decisions our government made in the name of the War on Terror in the ironic words of a father to his son.

Last night I stood at your doorstep
Trying to figure out what went wrong
You just slipped somethin’ into my palm
Then you were gone
I could smell the same deep green of summer
Above me the same night sky was glowin’
In the distance I could see the town where I was born

It’s gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
A long walk home

In town I passed Sal’s grocery
The barbershop on South Street
I looked into their faces
They were all rank strangers to me
The veterans’ hall high up on the hill
Stood silent and alone
The diner was shuttered and boarded
With a sign that just said “gone”

It’s gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
It’s gonna be a long walk home

Here everybody has a neighbor
Everybody has a friend
Everybody has a reason to begin again

My father said “Son, we’re lucky in this town
It’s a beautiful place to be born
It just wraps its arms around you
Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone.
That you know flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.”

Its gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
It’s gonna be a long walk home

Its gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don’t wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
It’s gonna be a long walk home

It’s gonna be a long walk home

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,257: ‘Long Walk Home’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana says:

    Interesting song. It doesn’t seem to start off overtly political, but Bruce’s message is made abundantly clear by the final verse.

    This is yet another of Bruce’s more recent records of which I am less familiar, but probably should make an effort to hear.

  2. Andrea Katz says:

    For what it’s worth, I remember being at a Pete Seeger concert in the 70’s and singing songs like “We shall overcome” at the top of my little left wing lungs. It was such a moving concert. i didn’t know that Springsteen had an album of Seeger’s songs. Thanks for enlightening me. That should be right up my alley.

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