I honestly can’t remember if I was aware that Steve Van Zandt had left the E Street Band. Certainly my constant consumption of the usual rock rags must have exposed me to the Little Steven/Nils switch. Still, the hugeness of the whole Born In The U.S.A. phenomenon probably pushed aside this important change.
As for “Bobby Jean,” I was far too young at the time to really understand the emotion of that kind of separation. I was just out of college, still trying to figure out which way was up, so to speak. Still trying to piece together how to live “like an adult.” That was a foreign concept to me, since most of the adults that I knew didn’t seem to care all that much about stuff like buying records, reading books, and going to concerts. That particular brand of adulthood still remains outside of my circle of understanding.
Whether this song is truly about Steve leaving the band is kind of beside the point for me. I do remember wondering what it would feel like to have someone taken away from me in that way, but for the most part I just enjoyed the chiming E Street sound and Clarence’s driving solo. Bigger concerns would have to wait.
Up next: I’m Goin’ Down