Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Straight Time” (1995)

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In a dark song that would not have been out of place on Nebraska, our protagonist is finding life difficult in his post-prison years. Bruce tells the story in a series of vignettes — the factory, the crooked uncle, the not quite trusting wife — all of these thing adding to the subtle pressure growing inside. This is some harsh stuff:

Kitchen floor in the evening, tossin’ my little babies high
Mary’s smilin’, but she watches me out of the corner of her eye
Seems you can’t get any more than half free

The sad reality of the prison system is that lives that are already broken in some way tend to be pushed further in that direction. There really is no rehabilitation going on. Or not much. It’s a complex situation not easily remedied, even if we had the will.

The temptation to slip over the line into that former life is a strong one, and Charlie saws off that shotgun and takes that step.

Up next: Highway 29

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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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