Car-aoke | #5

"My Hometown" by Bruce Springsteen

Few other everyday objects have shaped modern music as much as the car. In this column, our editors regularly write about songs that tell a car-related story. Some of them have even gone down in music history. But by no means all of them ...

Some people still believe Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 album Born in the U.S.A. can be understood as a declaration of love to his fatherland. But in all fairness: I believe all those self-proclaimed experts are right who rather see the LP as a merciless requiem of the American Dream. If you were still an advocate of the other interpretation, we can probably still agree that this record was a milestone in the history of rock music – and with more than 30 million copies sold it is also one of rock music’s most successful albums.

In twelve songs, the Boss tells stories from the life of American stereotypes – for example the story of the protagonist in “My Hometown”: When he’s eight years old, his father spontaneously asks him to sit on his lap, behind the steering wheel of his big, old Buick. The urgent appeal behind it: Don’t you ever forget where you come from – take a good look ‘round.

"My Hometown" was included in Bruce Springsteen's legendary album, Born in the U.S.A.
"My Hometown" was included in Bruce Springsteen's legendary album, Born in the U.S.A.

Springsteen mournfully mumbles these words of a gesture on the driver’s seat that not only establishes the close relationship between father and son. It is also this gesture that lays the ground work for the close relationship between the young protagonist and the streets which will see terrible scenes in the years to come: violence, crisis, and finally – exodus. 27 years after the iconic ride with his father, the protagonist in the last verse finds himself packing his own suitcase. But before he says farewell to those streets he knows so well, he takes one last trip – not on his own, but in a new role: Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said: Son, take a good look ‘round.

Sven Sattler

likes to write about songs that are older than himself. And he snaps at people who give him curious looks for his taste of music. You’re never too young for good music, he says.

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