Recently, I wrote about X – and their 4th of July song and now we have another which has nothing to do with today’s date. This was one of the first melancholy songs I heard from Bruce that made a big impact. I didn’t really understand it back then but listening to it now; Springsteen is alluding to his father’s life. It reminds me of what he sings about in Factory from the record Darkness on the Edge of Town: ‘I see my daddy walking through the factory gates in the rain. Factory takes his hearing; the factory gives him life‘.
Bruce Springsteen discussed that his father was a mill worker, then a soldier, and later in life between shifts at the Ford Motor plant in New Brunswick and other jobs, He was a heavy drinker, someone who suffered from mental health problems and lacked appropriate care or understanding for his family. “My father was my hero, and my greatest foe,” said Springsteen.
Well Papa, go to bed now, it’s getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
I’ll be leaving in the morning from St. Mary’s Gate
We wouldn’t change this thing even if we could somehow
‘Cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There’s a darkness in this town that’s got us too
But they can’t touch me now and you can’t touch me now
They ain’t gonna do to me what I watched them do to you
Independence Day is the hardened and stoic immediate reality that finalises the break. There’s no celebration or triumph or even relief, just understanding that separation is necessary for survival. Its roots can certainly be found in the real-life relationship between Bruce and Dutch Springsteen.