Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
On February 26, 1985 my great musical love & New Jersey’s favorite rocker Bruce Springsteen won his first Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance for the original recording of today’s song. It was the first single from his ginormous 1984 album, Born In The USA.. The title track was misinterpreted as an American anthem when in reality it was a protest song about what happened to the men & women when they returned home after their service in the Vietnam War. The video for the track made it appear like a song of US pride as well. The Boss was decked out in red (bandana), white (t-shirt) & blue (jean jacket) while he pumped his fist in the air each time he sang the chorus.
The dark message of today’s original track was also disguised by the video. The fast tempo song, performed on a stage with a slick set design and Springsteen’s dance moves with a pre-“Friends” Courtney Cox, looked like nothing but pure fun. In reality the song was a bleak tale of self-loathing where the singer wanted to change everything about himself & his surroundings and basically run away from who he thought he was. He felt there was something more to life, yet did not know of a way to start the change. But it was a hit record anyway and one of the highlights of Springsteen’s live shows to this day as he still invites someone on stage to dance with him during the coda.
Another very talented singer & songwriter from New Jersey, Pete Yorn, was not a fan of Springsteen’s or his 1984 release because he was bothered by the popularity of the album & because he was into metal music at that time. But years later a friend suggested that Yorn listen to “New York City Serenade” from Springsteen’s second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. Yorn was instantly entranced, became a fan of The Boss’ music. and eventually recorded his own version of that tune.
Yorn also recorded a cover of today’s song as a stripped down acoustic track. It was an excellent choice and adding a harmonica was inspired. Springsteen has reworked many of the tracks from Born In The USA in concert over the years and today’s song sounds like his touch which is a huge compliment to Yorn’s skill & talent. The slower tempo of his version gives the song a pensive tone which helps to underscore the dismal feeling of the lyrics. In doing so Yorn turned his cover of today’s track into one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful songs I ever heard, let alone a Springsteen cover.
Yorn has a really nice voice-evocative, steady and strong but not too overpowering as to drown out the message of the lyrics. What he has done with today’s song by highlighting those words gives it new significance, one that means more to me at this stage of my life than the original does. It is by far the best Springsteen cover I have ever heard.
“The situation’s getting clearer, radio’s on and I’m moving around my place
Check my look in the mirror, wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man, I ain’t getting nowhere, just living in a dump like this
There’s something happening somewhere, baby I just know that there is“.
Top: Courtney Cox (L) dances with The Boss (R) in the 1984 video for “Dancing In The Dark”. Bottom: Pete Yorn circa 2018. (Images found online. Original sources unknown.)
Pete Yorn: “Dancing In The Dark” (2001, written by Bruce Springsteen).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.