‘The Angel’ is a quiet piano ballad that kicks off side two of Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, 1973’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Half of the album’s tracks featured a full band while half were performed solo, this one being an obvious example of the latter.
Springsteen was very proud of the song and (for some reason) vowed never to play it live, though he caved and played it in a London show in the mid-90s, then again as part of a live performance of the full Greetings album in 2009.
If the cliche about early Springsteen is that he writes introspective poetry for gearheads, ‘The Angel’ is exhibit A. He squeezes every metaphorical drop out of this guy’s motorcycle.
Wieldin’ love as a lethal weapon, on his way to hubcap heaven
Baseball cards poked in his spokes, his boots in oil he’s patiently soaked
The roadside attendant nervously jokes as the angel’s tires stroke his precious pavement
The interstate’s choked with nomadic hordes
In Volkswagen vans with full running boards
Dragging great anchors, followin’ dead-end signs into the sores
The angel rides by humpin’ his hunk metal whore
Madison Avenue’s claim to fame in a trainer bra with eyes like rain
She rubs against the weatherbeaten frame and asks the angel for his name
Off in the distance the marble dome reflects across the flatlands with a naked feel off into parts unknown
The woman strokes his polished chrome and lies beside the angel’s bones