Why Bruce Springsteen may be the greatest songwriter of all time.

  1. Springsteen has a song called Highway 29, from the album The Ghost Of Tom Joad. Let's take a look at the lyrics and why I think he's so great.
    Here's a YouTube of it: https://youtu.be/MmAgTqcYFgg
  2. I slipped on her shoe, she was a perfect size seven.
    Oh, he's a shoe salesman.
  3. I said "There's no smokin in the store ma'am."
  4. She crossed her legs and then.
    For the last time.
  5. We made some small talk, That's where it should have ended.
    Oh, but it never does, does it?
  6. She slipped me her number, I put it in my pocket.
    The use of "slipped" for the second time. This is an important word.
  7. My hand slipped up her skirt, everything slipped my mind.
    "Slipped" again, twice. And ladies, if you think this is just lyrics, you're wrong. A hand slips up a skirt and "everything slipped my mind" is very, very accurate.
  8. In that little roadhouse, On Highway 29.
    I love this. We're 7 lines into the song and he's taken us from a pair of people who'd never met before, meeting in a shoe store, to a bar where things are heating up quickly.
  9. It was a small town bank, it was a mess.
    Another scene change, told with such beautiful brevity.
  10. But I had a gun, you know the rest.
    Geez, this is the line that inspired this list. "I had a gun, you know the rest." Such a brilliant expression. Nine words to describe a bank robbery. I get chills every time I hear this line.
  11. Money on the floorboards, shirt was covered in blood.
    Obviously the bank robbery went poorly, but he doesn't waste time or words telling the details. We get to fill in details on our own.
  12. And she was cryin', her and me, we headed south.
    Clearly she's upset, but they're moving on anyway.
  13. On Highway 29.
  14. In a little desert motel, the air was hot and clean.
    Another quick scene change.
  15. I slept the sleep of the dead, I didn't dream.
    Again, we fill in the details. He tells the whole night in ten words.
  16. I woke up in the mornin', washed my face in the sink.
    No wasting time. A quick face wash and hit the road.
  17. We headed into the Sierra Madres, 'cross the borderline.
    Yet another dramatic scene change. They're leaving the country this time, so it's a huge change.
  18. The winter sun shot through the black trees.
    This is really the first description that tells what the scene looks like.
  19. I told myself it was all something in her.
    Unlikely.
  20. But as we drove I knew it was something in me.
    Acceptance of who you are is important.
  21. And something that was here with me now.
    Now and always, really. Can we escape that sort of thing?
  22. Oh Highway 29.
  23. The road was filled with broken glass and gasoline.
    I always visualize that there was a roadblock that they tried to crash through.
  24. She wasn't sayin' nothin', it was just a dream.
    The ultimate silence. She's forever dreaming now, and this is again told with such brevity.
  25. The wind came silent through the windshield.
    This isn't good.
  26. All I could see now was snow, sky and pines.
    Laid out on the ground, maybe?
  27. I closed my eyes and I was runnin'.
    Joining her in her endless dreams.
  28. I was runnin', then I was flyin'.
    Fly away, fly away from your troubles and past.
  29. ...
  30. There are twenty seven lines in this song and it takes us from two people who'd never met, to a speedy "romance" to lawlessness and death. When I listen to this song I can picture every scene like I'm watching a movie, yet Bruce barely tells us anything concrete.
  31. I think that "But I had a gun, you know the rest" may be the best line Bruce has ever written. It's just brilliant and mind blowing.