Bruce Springsteen – The River

My friend Dave from A Sound Day wanted some bloggers to pick a song that has lyrics that we liked or can relate to. He stated, “I just want you to pick one song that you think has fantastic lyrics, or one you like because of the lyrics, and say a bit about why you love it.”

I went through many songs to get to this one. Dylan songs mostly before I realized this one hit home. This was the title track to Bruce’s 1980 double album. I picked this song because it is so easy to relate to. I’ve known friends who have lived this song. This is not a party starter song by any stretch of the imagination. The lyrics are downright sad because they are so damn real. It contains one of my favorite Springsteen lines “And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat.

I grew up in a small town with a population of around a thousand or so at the time. The jobs there were dead-end jobs and the pay was even worse. I saw a cycle even at an early age by seeing parents and their kids doing the same thing generation after generation. Nothing wrong with that but they hated doing what they were doing. It was enough inspiration for me to explore and find new things…and to get out. Some of my friends never made it out. They are doing now what they swore they wouldn’t do before.

I saw my sister get into the same position as the Mary character in the song. It ended many years later in a divorce but at least she is happy now so there are good endings. Her son was the best thing that happened to her. The funny thing is I ended up moving back near that town but I’m doing what I want to be doing not in a job or rut that I hate. Some of my friends are not in that position.

I came to realize…it wasn’t the location at all. It was and still is a nice small town…no that wasn’t it. It was the expectations at the time set upon every one that made it seem pre-ordained for bad choices to happen.

The wedding in the song relates to Springsteen’s sister, who got married when she was still a teenager. She knew it was about her and her husband the first time she heard it. It was also based on conversations Springsteen had with his brother-in-law. After losing his construction job, he worked hard to support his wife and young child but never complained.

The song’s lyrics are outstanding. Even the opening lines are so close to how I grew up. I did grow up in a valley. “I come from down in the valley,
Where mister when you’re young, They bring you up to do like your daddy done.” So it’s easy to relate to.

Bruce saves the best for last though. He is talking about the dreams we have when we are younger about what we are going to do in life until life wakes us up with a bang…at least that is what I interrupt.

Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse

The song didn’t chart in America or Canada but did make it to #35 in the UK. The album was #1 in the Billboard album charts, #1 in Canada, and #2 in the UK.

The River

I come from down in the valley
Where mister when you’re young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school
When she was just seventeen
We’d ride out of that valley down to where the fields were green

We’d go down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride

Then I got Mary pregnant
And man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse
And the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress

That night we went down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we did ride

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don’t remember
Mary acts like she don’t care

But I remember us riding in my brother’s car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse
That sends me down to the river
Though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight
Down to the river
My baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride

Don Williams – I Believe In You

We are going in a different direction today…some older country from 1980. Don’s voice is just so good…he doesn’t have an exaggerated southern drawl…it’s just quality.

My friend Matt (observationblogger) posted two songs (Amanda and I Recall A Gypsy Woman) by Don Williams and it reminded me of my memories of meeting Don Williams as a pre-teen and teenager. His popularity was much more international than I ever knew at the time. This song for instance was very popular in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. During that time I thought country music was only popular in the southern US.

I was around 10-12 and I played baseball at the city ballpark. I would go there after school and practice. There were days I would just hang around and talk to people. I saw this man mowing the grass that had this old cowboy hat on. After a little while, he stopped and talked to me and asked me how I was doing. I knew the guy’s face and it came to me… I was talking to Don Williams. The reason I knew him was because of my mom’s country albums. I wasn’t into country music but some songs I did like.

I would see him off and on throughout my teenage years and he always was as nice as can be. I went to school and played baseball with his son. Don would mow the city park and the high school field. I’m not sure if he was bored or just wanted to help the community…he was a super guy either way.

This song was released as the first single and title track from Don Williams’ I Believe in You album, this became his 11th #1 on the Country chart. It also peaked at #1 in Canada on the Country Charts. It ended up being Don Williams’ only Top 40 song on the Billboard 100, the song peaked at #24 in the Billboard 100, #4 in New Zealand, and #20 in Australia.

All together Williams had 21 #1 singles on the Country Charts and a total of 25 studio albums and 62 singles.

Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend were admirers of Don Williams and both covered his songs. Eric Clapton would cover Tulsa Time and take it to #30 in the Billboard 100.

I Believe In You

I don’t believe in superstars
Organic food and foreign cars
I don’t believe the price of gold
The certainty of growing old
That right is right and left is wrong
That north and south can’t get along
That east is east and west is west
And being first is always best

But I believe in love
I believe in babies
I believe in mom and dad
And I believe in you

Well I don’t believe that heaven waits
For only those who congregate
I like to think of God as love
He’s down below, he’s up above
He’s watching people everywhere
He knows who does and doesn’t care
And I’m an ordinary man
Sometimes I wonder who I am

But I believe in love
I believe in music
I believe in magic
And I believe in you

I know with all my certainty
What’s going on with you and me
Is a good thing
It’s true, I believe in you

I don’t believe virginity
Is as common as it used to be
In working days and sleeping nights
That black is black and white is white
That Superman and Robin Hood
Are still alive in Hollywood
That gasoline’s in short supply
The rising cost of getting by

But I believe in love
I believe in old folks
I believe in children
I believe in you

I believe in love
I believe in babies
I believe in mom and dad
And I believe in you