Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Highway 29” (1995)

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It’s an affair that leads down a dark path, told from the point of view of the deceased. Or at least, that’s how I used to feel about “Highway 29.” But pieces of art can be used in many different ways, and sometimes the viewer has no control over the experience.

There’s been an accident and the protagonist is describing the scene: the broken glass, the love interest silent. But it’s that last line that turns my attention in a completely (and mostly unrelated) direction:

I was runnin’ then I was flyin’

In the middle of my mother’s last day, pumped full of morphine and Ativan, she decided that she needed to get up and leave. Several times she attempted to sit up, as if she intended to get up and leave the room. In an odd way, it kind of made sense, since she knew she was “leaving.” In the effort to encourage her to step over to the other side, one of the nurses suggested that she fly, “Fly away, little bird.” Mom’s response was “I wanna fly…I wanna fly…I wanna fly…”

Ever since then, any combination of flight and the great beyond bring that one moment back to me. Surely this was not Bruce’s intent. It wasn’t mine either.

Up next: Youngstown

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