Bruce Springsteen – Spare Parts

Bobby said he’d pull out Bobby stayed in
Janey had a baby it wasn’t any sin
They were set to marry on a summer day
Bobby got scared and he ran away

This song was off of the 1987 album Tunnel of Love. This is really the last album I really loved of Springsteen. He has had some good albums since but this one was an end of an era to me.

It was not released as a single in America.  It did peaked at #26 on the Mainstream Rock Charts.

This album is a more grown up Springsteen after just being married and as you can tell from some songs on the album…heading for a divorce. This song is a in your face song with a great blues harp.

Spare Parts features LA Blues artist James Woods on harmonica…he got the gig through co-producer Chuck Plotkin whom he has known since high school.

James Woods: “Chuck said, Jimmy, do you still have your blues musician’s Union card?” “I did this chugging thing that is sort of a trademark of mine,” “I wish I was louder in the mix” (laughs).

James Woods got a lot of subsequent session work afterwards, “because I was the first non-E Street cat to play harp on a Springsteen record.”

From Songfacts

The studio version of this song runs 3:44 seconds, but there is a much longer version (available on YouTube) recorded live in Sheffield in 1988 for the Bruce Springsteen: Video Anthology 1978-1988, which was released in January 1989. In the extended piano introduction Springsteen explains: “This is a song about a woman struggling to understand the value of her own independent existence… trying to find something new, and beautiful and meaningful in her life today.” The first verse is sexually explicit in a covert sort of way. 

The live version features Nils Lofgren on slide guitar and backing by a full brass section. Although singer-songwriter Springsteen is not renowned for his guitar work, The Boss lets rip at the end of this track with a guitar solo.

Spare Parts

Bobby said he’d pull out Bobby stayed in
Janey had a baby it wasn’t any sin
They were set to marry on a summer day
Bobby got scared and he ran away
Jane moved in with her ma out on Shawnee Lake
She sighed Ma sometimes my whole life feels like one big mistake
She settled in in a back room time passed on
Later that winter a son came along

Spare parts
And broken hearts
Keep the world turnin’ around

Now Janey walked that baby across the floor night after night
But she was a young girl and she missed the party lights
Meanwhile in South Texas in a dirty oil patch
Bobby heard ’bout his son bein’ born and swore he wasn’t ever goin’ back


Janey heard about a woman over in Calverton
Put her baby in the river let the river roll on
She looked at her boy in the crib where he lay
Got down on her knees cried till she prayed
Mist was on the water low run the tide
Janey held her son down at the riverside
Waist deep in water how bright the sun shone
She lifted him in her arms and carried him home
As he lay sleeping in her bed Janey took a look around at everything
Went to a drawer in her bureau and got out her old engagement ring
Took out her wedding dress tied that ring up in its sash
Went straight down to the pawn shop man and walked out with some good cold cash



Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

41 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen – Spare Parts”

  1. Spare Parts was one of the many great songs that I experienced when seeing Bruce in concert for the first time on March 16, 1988 in Chicago. I have seen Bruce in concert for a total of 99 times since then.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This sounds crazy but I had never heard any Bruce Springsteen until his latest, Letter to You (2020). And I love it! I’ll be looking back at his old music to find more good songs, and this seems like a good start 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you found him! I have heard that song and liked it. I am going to try the new album. Born To Run is a great album also. Born in the USA album was really radio-friendly. You are in for a lot of great music!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. not a bad one from first listen. I rather suspect that album got a bum rap because A) people were tired of hearing his name by then and B) it was probably GOOD but not as great as ‘Born in the USA’ or ‘The River.’ My sweetie got me a CD called ’18 Tracks’ by him, a lot of new ones by him I’m starting to digest. Funny, she used to dislike him (over-hyped basically in her mind) but we’ve heard a couple of random Springsteen songs in movies and she’s like “wow- that’s quite good” and has started listening to some of his material.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I followed him so close until the Lucky Town and Human Touch albums. After that I kind of lost touch. I’ve heard some songs I liked but as far as albums his first ones always ring true to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. basically yeah… sadly, not too many artists of that era that it isn’t true of… very few can keep up that high level of excellence for decade after decade.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea he was at such a high level…I do need to check some of his newer albums out more…I listen to them but sometimes not enough.


      1. I didn’t know how good he was until I heard some of Steel Mill his old band. There are a lot of live things by them out…mostly bootleg but you can tell

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Something about it grabbed me when I first heard it. He sings so aggressive….btw I like your covers post…you picked some interesting ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have time CB so I might do that…we are snowed in…in Tennessee…we are not ready for this! 4 inches shut Nashville down… nothing is moving…time to build a snowman.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Where I live in Canada we get very little snow. Had a bit of a dump a few days ago but nothing serious.
        “Not ready” I could imagine. I’m pretty ignorant on your weather. My geography tells me its normally pretty warm down there. Am I right?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh yes…1 inch will take us down…this time we got a half inch of ice and then the snow…we live in the middle of 3 acres in a town like Mayberry…outside of Nashville…but yea we rarely get snow. We have winters with lows in the 30s…it’s 16 right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. When not used to it or prepared it can be nasty. I went up into the mountains last week and I was knee deep. Good thing, it’s up in the mountains 15 minutes from my place which is bare.
        Sounds like a great place to live Max. Enjoy every minute.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t know this song by the title but as soon as I started reading the words I knew it. Tunnel of Love is an album I know by heart (except the titles!) All of the songs on this are wonderful stories: this one is another favorite of mine:

    “on his right hand billy tattooed the word love on his left hand was the word fear and in which hand he held his fate was never clear”

    Liked by 1 person

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