Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Reno” (2005)

You know, forget the “controversy.” Sure, Starbucks didn’t want to carry Devils and Dust because of this song’s “explicit” lyrics. Well, good for them. I don’t buy their stuff anyway. I tell you though, sometimes it feels like this country will never grow up.

For me, the bigger story of “Reno” was just how damned depressing it was. Say what you want about the song’s frank dialog, the idea of a widower trying (and failing) to relive the past via a prostitute? It’s an impossibly sad life situation. I love the song for its power, but sometimes I come close to wishing I’d never heard it at all.

Did Bruce cross a line with those lyrics? Were they unnecessary? I suppose it would have been possible to portray the bleakness of that afternoon using more opaque language, but why? To avoid offending a few people? I’m glad Bruce never considered it.

Up next: Long Time Comin’

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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 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 reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Rob Duncan

    Spot on. As a Scotsman, I’ve never understood the furore over the language used (I use worse every day just in polite conversation) and always hated that it overshadowed what is a SPECTACULARLY well-written song.