Stolen Car- Bruce Springsteen and the Art of Balladry

Stolen Car - Bruce Springsteen

On December 4, 2015 Bruce Springsteen released a 4 cd/3 dvd box set called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection which comprehensively chronicles the experience that led to the creation of his magnificent 1980 album The River. The newer release contains songs that never made it to the cd and video footage offering intimate insight into those sessions.

The River, a fascinating journey through the creative spirit of one of America’s greatest songwriters, is known for its mix of celebratory rock and roll and somber balladry. Those ballads stand as some of the finest music Springsteen has ever written and marked a new direction for the songwriter, whose interest in storytelling and Americana became more pronounced as his career progressed.

“Stolen Car,” a sorrowfully moving tale of faded love, is indicative of Springsteen’s burgeoning passion for writing intimate songs colored dramatically with powerful human confessions and observations regarding significant life experiences. Like a wistful daydream, the song’s overall haunting quality is heightened by the eerie simplicity of its melody. Roy Bittan and Danny Federici present melancholy keyboard lines that play like a ghostly broken down carnival, enhancing the song’s dark, funereal feel. It closes with the despairing line “But I ride by night and I travel in fear that in this darkness I will disappear” and slowly fades into nothingness.

I met a little girl and I settled down
In a little house out on the edge of town
We got married, and swore we’d never part
Then little by little we drifted from each other’s hearts

At first I thought it was just restlessness
That would fade as time went by and our love grew deep
In the end it was something more I guess
That tore us apart and made us weep

And I’m driving a stolen car
Down on Eldridge Avenue
Each night I wait to get caught
But I never do

She asked if I remembered the letters I wrote
When our love was young and bold
She said last night she read those letters
And they made her feel one hundred years old

And I’m driving a stolen car
On a pitch black night
And I’m telling myself I’m gonna be alright
But I ride by night and I travel in fear
That in this darkness I will disappear

  • wcbuckner

    One of my favorites. I always wondered if the “stolen car/getting caught” metaphor was about faded love leading to infidelity or just something more abstract.