Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “My Best Was Never Good Enough” (1995)

Why would Bruce close out a poignant album of dark and troubled times with a short, sweet, and cliché-ridden song? As with most things Springsteen — and Bruce himself has said this many times about his lyrics — you’ve got to look deeper.

“My Best Was Never Good Enough” was partly based on the main character of Jim Thompson’s crime novel The Killer Inside Me. Lou Ford’s speech can make him seem like a homespun kind of guy, “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining,” and and the like. It turns out that he’s a psychopath.

Well, surely you don’t get any of this from a straight reading of the song’s lyrics, especially with quotes from the movie Forest Gump coming in toward the end. But there is that little bit of disaffected cynicism that glints off the title line:

Come on pretty baby, call my bluff
‘Cause for you my best was never good enough

What’s going on here? That question is never answered, and from that mystery comes the darkness.

Up next: Lonesome Day

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he writes several 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
  • JC Mosquito

    No mystery here – just because it’s a cliche doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in the real world.