Bruce Springsteen – Bobby Jean

This will close out the Born in the USA weekend but I’ll cover the other songs soon. This one I really think would have been a hit if they would have released it as a single…but that can be said about a few other ones also.

This song was really poignant when I heard it because I was about to graduate and I was starting to say goodbye to a lot of classmates that I knew I’d never see again.

This was written as a farewell message to guitarist Steven Van Zandt, who left the E Street Band during the recording of Born In The U.S.A. to pursue other projects. Van Zandt returned to the band years later.

From Songfacts

Springsteen called this “a good song about youthful friendship.”

In this song, Springsteen sings from the perspective of guy going to visit someone important to him, only to find that this person – Bobby Jean – has left town. Many assumed that Bobby Jean was a girl, which changes the storyline considerably. This interpretation plays out in the 1995 Nick Hornby book High Fidelity, where the main character, a record store clerk, says: “There’s this Springsteen song, ‘Bobby Jean,’ off Born In The U.S.A. About a girl who’s left town years before and he’s pissed off because he didn’t know about it, and he wanted to say goodbye, tell her that he missed her, and wish her good luck. Well, I’d like my life to be like a Springsteen song. Just once.”

The book was adapted into a movie in 2000, starring John Cusack. Springsteen appears in the film in a dream sequence; this was his first time acting in a movie. In this scene, he closes by telling Cusack, “Good luck, goodbye,” echoing the last line of this song. The song itself is not named in the film though.


Bobby Jean

Well, I came to your house the other day
Your mother said you went away
She said there was nothing that I could have done
There was nothing nobody could say
Me and you, we’ve known each other ever since we were sixteen
I wished I could have known
I wished I could have called you
Just to say goodbye, Bobby Jean

Now, you hung with me when all the others
Turned away, turned up their nose
We liked the same music, we liked the same bands
We liked the same clothes
We told each other that we were the wildest
The wildest things we’d ever seen
Now I wished you would have told me
I wished I could have talked to you
Just to say goodbye, Bobby Jean

Now, we went walking in the rain,
Talking about the pain that from the world we hid
Now there ain’t nobody, nowhere, nohow
Gonna ever understand me the way you did
Maybe you’ll be out there on that road somewhere
In some bus or train traveling along
In some motel room there’ll be a radio playing
And you’ll hear me sing this song
Well, if you do, you’ll know I’m thinking of you
And all the miles in between
And I’m just calling you one last time
Not to change your mind, but just to say I miss you, baby
Good luck, goodbye, Bobby Jean

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

23 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen – Bobby Jean”

  1. Fantastic song off a spellbinding 80’s album. I remember reading somewhere he had to make a short list from a megaload of songs he had lined up for it. I forget the number exactly but it was huge.
    I watched a music concert/commentary this morning of Elvis Costello with Springsteen. Springsteen talked about his middle child – 12 year old son getting into Bob Dylan. He saw his Dad playing the Newport Folk DVD and he asked him who he was. His son said Dylan was epic. Springsteen later heard his son playing his early folk songs including ‘Chimes of Freedom’ in his bedroom and Bruce mentioned how proud he was of him. It was a really enlightening and heartfelt conversation and then Springsteen went on to say that Dylan was the first music artist who brought the living breathing America to his ears and it floored him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a great story that is. I felt the same when I gave Bailey the choice a few years ago…The Stones or Dylan…they were coming at the same time…he picked Dylan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That also is a great story about your son which I think you told me about once before. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel if a son of mine went on his own Dylan path, but I’m still hoping since my son is just 10 years old Haha

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When I bought the album again last year, it was one song I’d forgotten about and sounded nearly the best of them all when I replayed it. Without looking through an entire discography, I’d reckon this one is in my top3 Springsteen songs which weren’t singles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Working on the Highway is probably my least favorite…it is a good album and one of the soundtracks to our wild years lol


  3. Interesting to listen to some of these tracks again after many years. What stands out is the battle-hardened vocals, the quality of the songwriting….and that SNARE!!! It’s iconic and all but I can’t help but mentally reach for the ‘fader’ to pull it back a touch — there’s no room for the guitars! lol

    Liked by 1 person

      1. haha yeah…still can’t get over it mate. Had to switch from the ipad to the studio speakers to double check! and they do actually sound more balanced there…still gargantuan though

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Got the album on now in the (home!) studio. Cover me sounds a bit different…wonder if it was mixed separately. Darlington County is in pole position to take the outlandish snare prize lol

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks man…Many moons ago we went to this dude’s “studio” and he asked us to bring a record so he could mix our stuff like it…I brought Born in the USA…it seemed to piss him off.
        I’ll check this out.

        Liked by 1 person

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