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Review For You Bruce Springsteen

Review For You, Bruce Springsteen

Aggiornato il 31 Lug, 2023 | Words and Music |

Some songs included in Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., Bruce Springsteen‘s first album, tell the growing up of a young man in his little town, between night strolls with friends and school rebellion, and his first excursions in New York streets and subways. For You, instead, is one of the first love songs of the young rocker from Freehold, New Jersey. A true and tormented love for a problematic girl (someone hypothesizes an aspiring suicide), who does not repay the protagonist/narrator’s attentions and wants to leave in search of better luck. If at a musical level they are totally distant, in their meaning For You and Mary Queen Of Arkansas seem to have a strong connection, narrating the stormy relationships between boys in love and problematic fickle girls. The high popularity of For You among fans of all ages has also been favored by its frequent live revival in the new millennium.


“I came for you, for you… but you didn’t need my urgency”. For You is based on two key elements: the boy’s urge to love and the girl’s existential emergency. He nurtures a young and exuberant love, a slave to the girl’s sensuality and mysteries. She lives in indecision and psychological imbalance and wants to leave because she aspires to something more. It is not clear whether the discovery of the girl passed out on the beach and the subsequent ambulance ride imply a suicide attempt or, at least, a heavy hangover or drug use. Or else, For You could hide a metaphor on the psychological profile of the girl, who makes wrong choices and self-inflicts suffering. The boy’s rescue, in this case, would take the form of a willingness to give her the balance she lacks. Indeed, he challenges her: “It’s not your lungs this time, it’s your heart that holds your fate“.


Once the girl was in love with the narrator, but now she builds up walls and interposes other boys between them. He portrays himself as a wounded but undaunted soldier, to the point of standing in line behind the other pretenders to get her. But she escapes: “We were both hitchhikers but you had your ears tuned to the roar of some metal-tempered engine on an alien distant shore, so you left to find a better reason than the one we were living for“. Her congenital dissatisfaction leads her away from the boy’s love. Without the coldness and substance of someone trying to build a future for her, she leaves, running the serious risk of falling. A theme that will be repeated in Kitty’s Back, a wonderful suburban story of betrayal and repentance. Romantic men, dissatisfied women, bitter defeats, unexpected returns.


In the last long verse, which includes the bridge leading to the final chorus, the probable epilogue of the story emerges. She was gone, but came back with a defeat. He finds her and, still in love, proposes himself again: “And it’s not that nursery mouth I came back for, it’s not the way you’re stretched out on the floor, ‘cause I’ve broken all your windows and I’ve rammed through all your doors and who am I to ask you to lick my sores and you should know that’s true, I came for you“. The guy is aware of the disappointment he felt in being abandoned and does not miss the chance to remind her of everything he has done for her. But finally, upon his return, he seeks her again. Not because he thinks he owes anything (“and who am I to ask you to lick my sores?“), but simply out of love, the most romantic love.


For You lyrics, very long and rich in words and images, belongs to the era in which Bruce Springsteen was seen, not surprisingly, as the New Dylan. The description of events and feelings is accompanied by a large number of verses and metaphors. Compared to other songs on the same album (for example Growin’ Up and It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City, which are not so short), For You has about twice the words used in the lyrics. And since the length of the song is not particularly long, this means that the metrics are very complex. A lyrical style that Springsteen will gradually abandon already from the second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle and, even more, in the following records.


Despite its musical complexity, For You is performed by just four elements: Bruce Springsteen plays guitar and sings without backing vocals. Vini Lopez and Garry Tallent form the rhythmic base, while on piano and organ David Sancious does an excellent job, as indeed in his wheelhouse. The resulting musical elaboration is impressive. Lopez, in his overflowing style, fills the song with drum rolls, often dubbed by piano and guitar. Tallent proves to be a really talented bassist, as in all the first two albums. Springsteen himself works hard on rhythm guitar, especially when he plays the upbeat riffs in the choruses. The result is a surprising fast-tempo rock ballad, in which the masterful work of Springsteen and Sancious on the harmonic component is essential to give further rhythmic cue to an already decidedly active drum/bass base.


For You has been played even more powerful in the live versions that have followed, especially in the tours of the new millennium. Bruce Springsteen then performed some versions on the piano, however slightly modifying the chords of the refrain. For You has also been revived in some covers, including that of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, who from Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. also took Spirit In The Night and Blinded By The Light to include them on his album Chance (1980).


Next review – SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT – 7 August 2023


Dario Migliorini


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