Song of the Day #3,522: ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ – Bruce Springsteen

I’m skipping Random Weekends this week (and for awhile longer, as you’ll learn soon) in order to close out February with the rest of my Best Original Song posts. Over the next five days I’ll feature some of my favorite Academy Award-winning songs.

Bruce Springsteen has been nominated for two Oscars, one for the title track of 1995’s Dead Man Walking and two years earlier for ‘Streets of Philadelphia,’ from the late Jonathan Demme’s film Philadelphia. Springsteen took home the trophy that year against a relatively weak field (which included another track from the same film, Neil Young’s ‘Philadelphia’).

There’s nothing weak about this song, though, which I count among the best tracks to ever take home an Oscar. Springsteen embodies a man with AIDS who is wasting away, and indicts a world turning away from his suffering. Like Demme’s film, the song uses the metaphor of the “City of Brotherly Love” as an ironic setting for this lonely tale.

Demme, along with his brother Ted, directed Springsteen’s video for ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ and brought the same compassion and warmth to this short clip that he did to all of his movies. He was a great talent who is sorely missed.

I was bruised and battered, I couldn’t tell what I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window, I didn’t know my own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me wastin’ away
On the Streets of Philadelphia

I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
It was just as black and whispering as the rain
On the Streets of Philadelphia

Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I my friend
My clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip this skin

The night has fallen, I’m lyin’ awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like thisBest
On the Streets of Philadelphia

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,522: ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Great first pick. Such a beautiful, powerful song. Looking forward to hearing the other best songs you will be featuring leading up to the big night.

  2. Peg Clifton says:

    Powerful film and powerful song.

  3. Amy says:

    I so remember the moment Springsteen stepped on the stage to perform this song during the Oscar ceremony. The excitement and admiration in the audience was palpable. This was the first time I recall thinking of celebrities as fans themselves; they were so clearly thrilled to have the Boss attending their little celebration of film.

    This is a great pick to start off the week. For all the jokes we make about pop songs tacked on to the credit sequence in hopes of courting as Oscar nom, there is no doubt that the right song can make a film all the more memorable.

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