Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Bruce Springsteen, "Independence Day" (1980)


If Bruce Springsteen ultimately won me over by way of osmosis, across a period of many years, I can still remember the moment when I clicked over to being admirer and fan, which came with this song. I was moving from Minneapolis to Seattle, dragging a U-Haul trailer behind an iffy Dodge station wagon, going out of my way to head first to a small town in South Dakota that had represented the Midwest to me since I was 8 years old. I thought I was taking advantage of a chance to visit it once more. I didn't realize until this song happened to start that I was actually detouring to say goodbye to the Midwest and the first half of my life, at which point I burst into tears—I mean the hard, wracking sobs kind. It would be easy enough to quibble with the fuzzy aspect of the lyrics here, the inexpertly rendered and incoherent scene between a father and son. It doesn't matter. It's the sound of this song, the doleful mourning quality of it, the way he sings, "Just say goodbye it's Independence Day," focusing it so explicitly on the word and the idea of "independence." That's what did me in. This is one of the truest expressions of "independence" I know, going way past the usual screechy good humor associated with it—the way Dick Cheney said we would be greeted in Iraq in 2003. This song feels like it's doing its work at the greatest depths. Because "dependence," remember, does come with its comforts. An independence day is a mixed thing, that's the reality. It is also a loss, and thrusts one into a future without certainty. These are thoughts and feelings I suspect people such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, etc., etc., knew and felt too.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fine review and reflection, especially the latter in its honesty and thoughtfulness - thanks.