Heaven’s waiting on down the tracks
“The screen door slams
Mary’s dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside
Darling you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinking
That maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me”
– Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen –
Man if that ain’t poetry then nothing is. I am always so struck dumb by the lyrics of early Springsteen. And I can’t never make it through Thunder Road without tears welling up and an ache in my heart that belongs only to my youth and the crazy dreams that died somewhere between there and here.
Springsteen wrote about this crazy freedom, the rush of escaping your father’s rules and the world telling you to grow up and that you ain’t old enough just the same. His early records remind me of being so young and so wild, running the streets till the dawn and late night kisses from the girl you always swore you’d love no matter what. Friends that are come and gone who swore they was blood brothers and we’d take that long walk together. It was your world and everyone else was just an orbiting satellite sending signals and songs.
And I grieve, for that innocence. The naive kid. The wild heart who was never going to break. He wasn’t that kind. There was something to be said and he was going to say it and say it better than anyone ever did. Armed with notebooks and songs about broken hearts. There was meaning to it all. Every sidewalk crack, every smile and whisper.
But somehow it all got away, it slipped out the window while I slept. It was squeezed out by courts, bosses and doctors. I stopped being invincible and started feeling every bump and all my bruises. And a few too many broken hearts and goodbyes. The girl I swore I’d always love stopped loving me instead and I watched her go. Off into the cloudy skies of grown up and making reasonable choices, the world of two car garages and mortgages. To some guy whose name doesn’t matter who offered financial security and family portraits instead of my lonely poet’s soul and dreams of greener hills in far away places. The friends, they died, fell away or got old and forgot that we were suppose to never get this lost.
Somewhere there is the sound of a big machine, two wheels of aluminum and steel. The growl and hiss of an engine hitting overdrive and blowing down some lost highway. And the ghost of kid who had no idea where he was going and that was just fine by him. He just keeps on rolling, on and away. Sometimes I can stand on the side of the road when it gets real dark and real quiet and hear him ripping a hole in time. He’s out there still…Wild and free.
“All the redemption I can offer girl
Is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now?”