Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Pony Boy” (1992)

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I never understood the vitriol folks have lobbed at this song. Showing up quite often on fan lists of Springsteen’s worst songs (the idea of a fan making a list of the an artist’s “worst” songs being a topic for another day), “Pony Boy” — like most of Human Touch has annoyed a lot of fans over the years.

I’d always known that this tune was a lullaby for his son Evan. What I didn’t know what that Bruce didn’t actually write it (and here I am a dedicated liner notes aficionado…oops). No, Springsteen added some lyrics in his arrangement of the traditional song “My Pony Boy.”

Heading into “Better Days,” I always saw this as an expression of how his home life had changed from the emotional upheaval documented on Tunnel of Love to a more settled family orientation. Patti’s harmony vocals glue those ideas together.

What would be interesting to know is where Bruce first heard this tune. The video shown below features a very old version coming from a Victrola. But if you look at various online sources, there are instrumentals that come right out of a carnival environment.

Up next: Better Days

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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