Bruce Springsteen – Darlington County

A lot of memories connected with this song. Summer of 1985. I never got into much trouble in high school…never got caught making mischief anyway… but I did have this adventure after graduation.  I was driving to Florida with 3 other guys with this song blasting out with 140 bucks in my pocket…to Cocoa Beach Florida…15 hours away. I was the rich one on this trip.

A bunch of guys that just graduated and acting stupid. We learned if you tilted a coke machine (those back then) cokes would stream out. Funny how you try things out when you are 18 and stupid. We filled a couple of coolers up with them. It’s a wonder we weren’t caught or crushed by all of those machines. We also halfway wrecked a hotel room (tv was bolted down thank goodness) and dreaded getting back home where we would have to begin…gulp…life. No, I never tilted another coke machine, wrecked a hotel room, or anything like it again. 4 guys in a Toyota Celica for 15 hours…not comfortable but when you are 18…fun all the same…now I’d be in traction after such a trip.

There are certain songs that take you back to a time. Walking On Sunshine, Glory Days, and Darlington County all connect me with that trip. Back to the song! This is one of the very few on the album that wasn’t a hit…but it’s just as good as many of the others.

Bruce originally wrote this for his 1978 album Darkness On The Edge Of Town, but it didn’t make the cut. The riff in the song reminds me of Cadillac Ranch that was on The River album.

The song resolves itself in the end with the narrater’s buddy in trouble.

Driving out of Darlington County
My eyes seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
Driving out of Darlington County
Seen Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper’s Ford

Darlington County

Driving in to Darlington County
Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
Driving in to Darlington County
Looking for some work on the county line
We drove down from New York City
Where the girls are pretty but they just want to know your name
Driving in to Darlington City
Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne’s
We drove eight hundred miles without seeing a cop
We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top, singing

Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la
Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la

Hey little girl, standing on the corner
Today’s your lucky day for sure, all right
Me and my buddy, we’re from New York City
We got two hundred dollars, we want to rock all night
Well girl, you’re looking at two big spenders
Why, the world don’t know what me and Wayne might do
Our pa’s each own one of the World Trade Centers
For a kiss and a smile, I’ll give mine all to you
Come on baby, take a seat on my fender
It’s a long night, and tell me, what else were you gonna do?
Just me and you, we could

Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la
Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la

Little girl, sitting in the window
Ain’t seen my buddy in seven days, play it boys
County man tells me the same thing
He don’t work and he don’t get paid

Little girl, you’re so young and pretty
Walk with me and you can have your way
And we’ll leave this Darlington City
For a ride down that Dixie Highway

Driving out of Darlington County
My eyes seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
Driving out of Darlington County
Seen Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper’s Ford

Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la
Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la

Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la
Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la

Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la
Sha la la, sha la la la la
Sha la la la, la la la

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

33 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen – Darlington County”

    1. I would ask drummers about this album…that snare was huge. A few have said it had to be a “piccolo snare drum”… I don’t know if it was that or just the mix.

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      1. Ummm a piccolo…don’t know about that. That born to run has serious girth. I’d imagine it’s a big’n.
        I enjoyed reading Springsteen talk about clearmountain mixing- he did a few mixes on the previous album from memory and Springsteen was like ‘ the guys just too fast, we need time to sweat, try, cry over the mixes etc ‘

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey….that is what drummers have told me. I hardly ever trust a drummer lol.

        That is funny…Bruce wanted to suffer…
        He needed him on The River…that one is muddy to me.

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      3. NEVER trust them lol
        I see what you mean with the river but I like the production all the same. Would like to dig out the springsteen quote on mixing with and without clearmountain, made me laugh

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      4. Man I have to listen to that book. I have it but with me staying at home…I listen more driving back and forth to work…I have that one and John Entwistle’s book in line.

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  1. You and your friends were acting like Guns N Roses back in 88 trashing and thrashing about. lol. Poor Coke Machine ,of course it was different kind of Coke for Guns N Roses back in 88.

    Always love reading about the backstory whether it be an album or a song. It sucks to grow up but the question has to be asked did we actually grow up? In some ways of course in other ways no and thats the great thing as tunes like Darlington County can take you back to way simpler time where we didn’t have to worry about self isolation!

    Great post Max.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your weekend living the Keith Moon style of life! Great story. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Darlington County on the radio- one of the new Born In The USA songs that weren’t blasted on the radio in the mid 80’s. Not even AOR stations that I listened to. I guess they had enough to play as it was- which makes this song still fresh sounding.

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    1. Hans another stupid thing was…the hotel was in MY name. I didn’t think about it til I was at home…but we didn’t destroy anything…just a total mess with everything upside down and trash…Never heard a word. We did try the tv…

      It was a cassette tape of it. My friend introduced Bruce to me. I showed him this post before I posted it. He had two comments. I can’t believe you are owning up to this and…it seems like yesterday.

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      1. Was it a Holiday Inn, Keith…or I mean Max? They were probably hoping you boys never came back that way! Not breaking anything probably the key.

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  3. That photo of Bruce pretty much captures what he does to this day. He’s really one of the most remarkable performers I’ve seen.

    I last caught him on his River Tour at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where he set a new record, playing just over four hours – at times it felt like he was in some sort of a trance. He just kept going like the Energizer Bunny, really testing the endurance of The E Street Band.

    If I recall it correctly, only a few days later, Springsteen broke his own record yet again by a few minutes in Philly. I mean, think about it, which top-notch artists nowadays routinely plays three-hour shows? With The Boss, you always get you money’s worth.

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    1. I’ve seen him twice…once he did an acoustic tour in the late nineties I want to say and I saw him in 2000 with the E-Street band. You are so right… you get your moneys worth with him. He played for at least 3 hours when I saw him both times and puts everything into it.
      He is so aggressive on stage. I love is in between song stories and introductions. I know he misses Clarence because you could tell they got along great and had such a history.

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      1. Oh man, Clarence Clemmons, what an amazing rock sax player! Fortunately, I got to him during my first Springsteen show back in Germany in the 80s, which I believe was during the supporting tour for “Tunnel of Love.”

        The gig happened at a huge soccer stadium in Frankfurt. At the time, there was still a good amount of American soldiers based in the area, so in some regards, it was close to being a homeplay for Springsteen and the band.

        If I recall it correctly, the gig lasted about 3.5 hours with a short intermission. During the second part and encore, they mostly played covers like “In the Midnight Hour”, “Land of 1000 Dances” and “Shout.” It was so good!

        Eventually, they had to stop because of noise ordiances – at least that’s what I recall Bruce said.

        During my second Springsteen show in August 2016, the E Street Band featured Jake Clemmons on sax, Clarence’s nephew. He did a beautiful job!

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  4. One of my favorite songs on that album. It was good enough to be a single, but then again, there were about a busload of singles from it and finding a song on ‘Born in the USA’ that wasn’t good enough for radio would be a challenge.
    I felt a weird kinship to that song because I lived in a part of Ontario that was once called “Darlington County” (although the government streamlined the jurisdictions and it was merged with another to become Durham Regional Municpality)
    You were a wild one eh?! I guess we’ve all done some rather silly things when young. For me, a cigarette machine took the brunt of my wrath one night (I don’t smoke, I was probably mad my girlfriend at the time was)… it was in the lobby of my workplace which was a run-down hotel where showing up was 90% of the job… not necessarily showing up unimpaired, truth be told.

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    1. No that is the deal…I really wasn’t a wild one at all. Practical jokes…yes but no drinking or drugs…I guess I just thought the hell with it…it’s time to begin life lol. I’ll never forget when we left Cocoa Beach I saw a line of coke machines we emptied with “Out of Order” on them after we were gone…I’ve read where kids got killed doing that…doing it by themselves and getting crushed.
      I’m lucky we didn’t break anything in the room or I would have been paying dearly.

      I’ve had those jobs before…believe me…I guess it was better on a cigarette machine than some body!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yeah, it was a crazy time. I worked night manager for nearly 2 years. It was a rundown hotel with three bars built in. At times I had to hide weapons behind the counter for bouncers (didn’t like doing that but keeping in their good books was primo!) and ended up quitting the night one of our bouncers wrestled a handgun out of the hands of an angry biker in one of those bars. Lots of interesting experiences but I wouldn’t go back to a place like that now for all the tea in China…

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      2. 3 bars in a hotel? Geez you had your hands full then. When you add bikers to an event or place…it gets interesting really fast.
        I played music for a lot of bikers with no trouble because we were the entertainment…never bothered us at all…BUT…the other people? Yea I saw a lot of stuff I can’t un-see now. Someone breaking a bottle over someone’s head while playing Stand By Me…we were always told KEEP PLAYING.

        Yea man it was time for you to go when handguns make an appearance.

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  5. Everybody has to cut loose once in awhile. Usually it’s the young people because they don’t have much to lose. We start getting “stuff” and are too afraid of losing it to cut loose. Great road trip story, Max.

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      1. Yes, and the game was glitch free for the most part this time. We played a complete game in 3 hours — a record for that game! Thanks for asking. How was the Yahtzee last night?

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      2. Playing right now lol… glad you had a good game. Everyone is online now so it’s a wonder you did get through it almost glitch free.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Heh. Graduation beach trip. I was just a year ahead of you. Beer can pyramids over the headboard of the beds…hanging out of the car windows on the Grand Strand and getting called out by the police in golf carts…four of us girls, naked & drunk, dancing in the shower, water all over the floor (there is a picture somewhere of that)…me, holding on to a previously-graduated, drunk, upperclassman so he wouldn’t roll out of bed & hit the floor (he was crying over one of my buddies that had broken up with him before prom)…we stayed in one of my friend’s parent’s condo and we met some guys a floor above us…one guy was so drunk & so high on cocaine that, he lit a shot glass full of everclear and tried to drink it, missing his mouth, singeing his eyebrows and losing a layer of skin on his neck…he dowsed himself with Orange Chek (remember that brand from Winn-Dixie?)…my buddy was so freaked out, she threw the bottle of everclear out of the window and on to the street, four stories up… I was the one that got blessed with carrying all the alcohol in a suitcase, across state lines. Two songs stick out from that week long blur…Aldo Nova’s “Fantasy” and KISS’s “Heaven’s On Fire” from Animalize. Those two cassettes were worn OUT in a boom box…Shannon, too…Let The Music Play cassette…Jermaine Stewart’s “The Word is Out”…

    God, what a week. I survived on $100.

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    1. LOL…This was before I ever drank or did anything…that was yet to come in my future so our stuff was just destructive lol.

      Your trip sounds like one to remember…what you can remember of it. Wow Orange Chek…yes I remember those. It’s been a long long time.

      $100…I did $140 but I split it with one of my friends who had nothing…I wouldn’t go anywhere like that with $140…I’d spend that getting down there.

      I’m wondering if any of the guys I went with had cameras…I lost touch with 2 of them…I wish I would have brought a camera…I’m going to try to track those two down and see if there are any pictures. It would be of broken coke machines and a wrecked trashed room. We took the bed apart and dumped a barrel of trash in there…for some reason…

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