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