Bruce Springsteen on Deindustrialization

Writer David Masciotra is working on a book in which he will analyze Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics in context of politics, globalization and industrial decay.


He has displayed some of his work in a blog post about The Boss’ blue-collar ballad, “Youngstown.”

The song can be interpreted as a scathing condemnation of business practices that put the bottom line over the interests of American workers, to the detriment of Midwestern manufacturing towns, Masciotra writes.

An excerpt from the song:

Well my daddy worked the furnaces
Kept ‘em hotter than hell
I come home from ‘Nam worked my way to scarfer
A job that’d suit the devil as well
Taconite, coke and limestone
Fed my children and made my pay
Then smokestacks reachin’ like the arms of god
Into a beautiful sky of soot and clay

Here in Youngstown
Here in Youngstown
My sweet Jenny, I’m sinkin’ down
Here darlin’ in Youngstown

Masciotra writes:

“The comparison of smokestacks to the “arms of god” not only provides the song with powerful imagery, but gives one a sense of the unmatched importance of the steel industry to Youngstown life.

It was a benevolent giver of jobs, livelihood, opportunity, and identity. It helped individuals maintain decent lives for their families, and established value and meaning for their larger community.

Pride and purpose could be found in the assistance that Youngstown’s labor gave to American foreign policy. That is, until the foreign policy became confusing and ignoble, and the American steel industry folded.

The worker recalls his father, no doubt at this point an elderly man, expressing scarred bewilderment over how the world’s evilest men could not destroy Youngstown, but wealthy American elites with their own agenda could.”

Interesting stuff. Masciotra has also analyzed John Mellencamp lyrics from a Midwestern cultural perspective on Mellenblog.


Filed under Art, Headline

3 responses to “Bruce Springsteen on Deindustrialization

  1. Sean Posey

    Springsteen’s “My Hometown” is also a great look at the destruction wrought by deindustrialization.

    Now main streets whitewashed windows and vacant stores
    Seems like there aint nobody wants to come down here no more
    Theyre closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
    Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they aint coming back to
    Your hometown,

    Even Springsteen’s biggest hit “Born in the USA” hints at the beginning of deindustrialization in the 1970’s.

    Born down in a dead man’s town
    The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
    You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
    ‘Til you spend half your life just covering up

    Come back home to the refinery
    Hiring man says “Son if it was up to me”

  2. Special K

    I love the song ‘Youngstown’ and I love that sexy picture of Bruce!

  3. Pingback: Rust Wire Blog Archive Bruce Springsteen on Deindustrialization | Improve Seniors Life

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