Bruce Springsteen — Born To Run

Vinyl, LP, Album, Gatefold, 1975

Most days I don’t think about poetry, but when I do I always do that dumb white midwesterner thing where I imagine poetry as something like Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland,” where everything is full of ego and testosterone and fighting and guns. I imagine this is the kind of poetry I would like because I don’t get poetry and I am a cool dude who likes things like The Hold Steady and old Bukowski books.

And then, some days I think about poetry and I look at “Jungleland” and I read it a bit and I think, yeah, this is pretty good, in that it tells a story and has wonderful imagery and it’s pretty fun to sing along to but, man, when Bruce says

Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades
Hustling for the record machine
The hungry and the hunted
Explode into rock’n’roll bands

does this really only betray the fact that Bruce didn’t get enough hugs growing up and now he thinks that rock and roll is the magical force that makes everything turn? Does Bruce really think that by saying

Outside the streets on fire in a real death waltz
Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy
And the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be

that he’s making some grand statement about the music industry or about music reviewers or maybe even about the writing process itself?

Like, sure. You’re doing a nice job. But, man. Chill out a bit. You’re overplaying your hand.

And then, on days like today, I’m just looking for something to write about, and it ends up being “Jungleland,” and I listen to it, and it’s still good, and it’s still a little overblown, and it’s still probably exactly what rock and roll poetics are supposed to be about. And then I move on, because no world is ever like that. And that’s probably the point.