Bruce Springsteen – Badlands

The first chords come in and start the powerful riff. I love the way Bruce phrases the lyrics with an urgency to be heard. As soon as I heard lyrics

I don’t give a damn
For just the in-betweens
Honey I want the heart, I want the soul
I want control right now

I was hooked. Springsteen was one artist who lived up to the “new Dylan” title that was given to him by the press. They are quite different artists but Springsteen managed to live up to the hype.

This was the second single off Darkness On The Edge Of Town, the first album Springsteen released after a legal battle with his first manager, Mike Appel, kept him from recording for almost 3 years. The first single was #33 Prove It All Night.

The title came from a 1973 movie of the same name starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Springsteen got the idea from a poster in the theater lobby. Springsteen did not see the movie until after he wrote this.

The song peaked at #42 in the Billboard 100 in 1978.

From Songfacts

This was more mature songwriting from Springsteen, as much of Darkness On The Edge Of Town reflects the characters of his previous album, Born To Run, getting older and more pessimistic.

“Badlands” was considered for the name of the album. Around this time, Springsteen would come up with titles and try to come up with deserving songs for them. He told Rolling Stone in 2010: “Badlands, that’s a great title, but It would be easy to blow it. But I kept writing and I kept writing and I kept writing and writing until I had a song that I felt deserved that title.”

This is a concert favorite. It was featured on Springsteen’s 1999 reunion tour with The E Street Band, and on many of their subsequent tours.

Badlands is a US national park in South Dakota. It is famous for striking scenery and expansive prairie land.

The version on Live 1975-1985 was recorded in Arizona the night after Ronald Reagan was elected president. Bruce introduced the song by saying: “I don’t know what you guys thought of what happened last night, but I thought it was pretty terrifying.” Reagan would later misinterpret “Born In The U.S.A.” in a 1984 campaign speech.

Bill Murray and Paul Shaffer chose to open the 25th Anniversary Show of Saturday Night Live with this song, as sung by Murray’s character of Nick the Lounge Singer. According to the book Live From New York, they chose this song because Murray and Shaffer felt that there was a certain lyric in the song that best described their experience of growing up in life and in show business on Saturday Night Live in the ’70s. Murray was quoted as saying performing the harmony with Paul was one of the high points of his entire career. 

Badlands

Lights out tonight
Trouble in the heartland
Got a head-on collision
Smashin’ in my guts man
I’m caught in a crossfire
That I don’t understand
I don’t give a damn
For the same old played out scenes
I don’t give a damn
For just the in-betweens
Honey I want the heart, I want the soul
I want control right now
Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
You wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don’t come
Well don’t waste your time waiting

Badlands, you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good

Workin’ in the fields
Til you get your back burned
Workin’ ‘neath the wheel
Till you get your facts learned
Baby got my facts
Learned real good right now
Poor man want to be rich
Rich man want to be king
And a king ain’t satisfied
Till he rules everything
I want to go out tonight
I want to find out what I got

I believe in the love that you gave me
I believe in the hope that can save me
I believe in the faith
And I pray that some day it may raise me
Above these badlands

Badlands, you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good

For the ones who had a notion
A notion deep inside
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive
I want to find one face that ain’t looking through me
I want to find one place
I want to spit in the face of these badlands

Badlands, you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

19 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen – Badlands”

  1. I literally just ripped the cellophane off the CD that’s been sitting here for a number of years. It shall be my listening selection on the trip over to GR to the cat shelter today. Yes, love this song and remember it from the radio days.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I bought Human Touch and Nebraska at the same time. Have played the heck out of Human Touch but haven’t touched Nebraska other than maybe one or two listens. I need to get acquainted with this earlier music.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. True story about a couple that go on a killing spree in the 50s across Nebraska…in fact it inspired him to write Nebraska.

        Like

      1. I was a huge fan of Springsteen growing up. He was my second favourite artist. I still am a big admirer but I haven’t really followed him that closely since the Human Touch release. But, I got huge kick out of Magic and The Rising.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is me… After Human Touch I lost touch…no pun intended with Bruce.
        I will say this. He is one of the few “New Dylans” that lived up to the Hype. Is he better? no…of course not but he is great.
        Most “new Dylans” fail because that is a hard load to carry

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree. I remember also that quote or words to the effect, ‘I have seen the future of Rocknroll and it’s Bruce Springsteen’.
        I haven’t heard many artists praised as ‘New Dylans’ (except for Bruce of course) but yes that is high bar to attain.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Steve Forbert was mentioned before and yea…it’s impossible.
        I remember when the Knack came out I read some papers calling them “The New Beatles”… that is the kiss of death.

        Liked by 1 person

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