Top ten Bruce Springsteen songs

2. Highway Patrolman
Taken from the album "Nebraska" (Columbia, 1982)

"Man turns his back on his family well he just ain't no good.."

The second song on the list from the Nebraska album. That just shows you how good that album is, maybe not your raised fist in the air crowdpleaser but maybe Springsteens most reflected and best album lyrically. When it comes to storysongs at least. An almost perfect folk-album.

I have talked a lot about that I think a lot of Springsteens songs are like movies, and this song in fact has been made in to a movie. Sean Penn wrote an directed the movie The Indian Runner in 1991 which is based on this song. The main characters in the movie are the brothers Joe and Frank Roberts from this song. Even the storyline and plot in the movie are almost identical to the narrative in the song. Great song, great movie.

Another thing about this song is the reference to the folk song "Night of the Johnstown Flood", or what is believed to be a folk song. I have never heard it, but some sources on the web has listed a song in the same vein in Harry Smith's Anthology of Folk I think. In my opinion I believe that Springsteen included this little title just to set a scene, and even get people to think about the Johnstown flood which ruined a whole city back in 1889.

But, it was the song we were talking about. For me the best thing about this song is the narrative. It tells the story of one brothers reflection on his life, and dealing with his brother who is a lot different from him, but not that different after all. No matter how different you and your brother are, you are still blood and you would do anything for each other.

"Well the night was like any other, I got a call 'bout quarter to nine
There was trouble in a roadhouse out on the Michigan line
There was a kid lyin' on the floor lookin' bad bleedin' hard from his head there was
a girl cryin' at the table and it was Frank, they said
Well I went out and I jumped in my car and I hit the lights
Well I must of done one hundred and ten through Michigan county that night

It was out in the crossroads, down 'round Willow bank
Seen a Buick with Ohio plates behind the wheel was Frank
Well I chased him through them county roads till a sign said Canadian border five
miles from here
I pulled over the side of the highway and watched his taillights disappear.."

Bruce Springsteen - Highway Patrolman

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