Bruce Springsteen, “Racing In The Street”

Bruce Springsteen

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Bruce Springsteen once wrote that he was “Born To Run,” but “Racing In The Street,” penned a few years later, captures none of that song’s enthusiasm for cars, highways, and escapism. Instead, it’s a mournful double dose of reality.

Released on 1978’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town, the song weaves a weary spell over the listener. The live version on Live 1975-1985 is particularly affecting. A more upbeat alternate take, dubbed “Racing In The Street ’78,” can be found on the new Darkness On The Edge Of Town reissue.

In his book Glory Days, Dave Marsh writes that the song marks “the line of demarcation separating casual Springsteen fans from the fanatics.” Townes Van Zandt performed a memorable cover, claiming it took him three years to learn the song. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide dubbed it Springsteen’s best track, and Springsteen himself lists it as among his favorites.

The Boss was a big fan of vintage Sixties rock, and paraphrases the Martha and the Vandellas song “Dancing In The Streets” in the line “Summer’s here and the time is right for racing in the street.”

“Racing In The Street”

I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396
Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor
She’s waiting tonight down in the parking lot
Outside the Seven-Eleven store
Me and my partner Sonny built her straight out of scratch
And he rides with me from town to town
We only run for the money got no strings attached
We shut ’em up and then we shut ’em down

Tonight, tonight the strip’s just right
I wanna blow ’em off in my first heat
Summer’s here and the time is right
For goin’ racin’ in the street

We take all the action we can meet
And we cover all the northeast state
When the strip shuts down we run ’em in the street
From the fire roads to the interstate
Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up
And go racin’ in the street

Tonight, tonight the strip’s just right
I wanna blow ’em all out of their seats
Calling out around the world, we’re going racin’ in the street

I met her on the strip three years ago
In a Camaro with this dude from L.A.
I blew that Camaro off my back and drove that little girl away
But now there’s wrinkles around my baby’s eyes
And she cries herself to sleep at night
When I come home the house is dark
She sighs “Baby did you make it all right”
She sits on the porch of her daddy’s house
But all her pretty dreams are torn
She stares off alone into the night
With the eyes of one who hates for just being born
For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels
Rumbling through this promised land
Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea
And wash these sins off our hands

Tonight tonight the highway’s bright
Out of our way mister you best keep
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right
For goin’ racin’ in the street

Written by Bruce Springsteen






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