Springsteen comes of age

By KIT RACHLIS  |  November 14, 2006

Now my pop, I always remember he used to, every night at nine o’clock, he used to shut off all the lights in the house and he’d sit in the kitchen and drink his beer and smoke a cigarette. My mom, she’d sit in the front room with just the TV on and watch TV all night until she fell asleep in the chair. My father would bring her upstairs and then she would get up and go to work in the morning. So I’d stay in the city as much as I could, because I always knew that when I would come back my father would always be sitting at that kitchen table in the dark waiting for me. So I’d stand out there, I’d stand out there in the driveway – he’d always lock up the front door so I couldn’t get in the front – I’d stand there in the driveway and I could see the glow of his cigarette through the screen door. And sometimes I’d just stand there. I would slick my hair back real tight and hope that I could bake it through the kitchen so I could make it to my room before he would stop me. And he’d wait until I hit that bottom stair and he’d call my name to come back, to sit down with him in the dark, to talk to him about things that was on my mind. I always remember sittin’ there and I could always hear his voice but I could never see his face, never see his face. We’d start off talkin’ about nothing but what I was doing in school, how things were going. Pretty soon he was askin’ me where I was getting’ my money from, where I was goin’ out and what I thought I was doin’ with myself. Pretty soon we’d end up screaming at each other and my mother would come runnin’ up from the front room, tryin’ to pull him off me, tryin’ to keep us from fightin’ with each other. And I’d always end up running out the back door screaming, telling him, telling him, telling him…that it was my life and I could do what I wanted to do. -Introduction to "It's My Life"

Two songs are missing from Darkness on the Edge of Town: Eric Burdon’s “It’s My Life,” which Springsteen has been  covering on and off in concert for the last three years, and “The Promise,” which was the first song Springsteen wrote after Born To Run and is now his initial encore song. The center of Darkness on the Edge of Town is “Adam Raised a Cain” and at the center of that song is Springsteen’s father. “It’s My Life” and “The Promise” frame “Adam Raised a Cain”; they provide the missing links. “It’s My Life” has always been a classic of adolescent assertion by aiming the song’s rage at his father and not at authority figures in general, Springsteen has taken the original a step farther. It’s no longer giving the world the finger, it’s a rejection of your past, the man who raised you, whom you’ve become most like. It’s still a song of adolescence – Springsteen doesn’t change the specifics – but as his voice slowly drags over every word, examining each before throwing it out, the song becomes one of viciousness and confusion.

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