Lyric of the Week | Bruce Springsteen > November 17, 2008

Written by November 17th, 2008 at 10:53 am

Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat

In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat

With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older I tripped the merry-go-round

With this very unpleasing sneezing and wheezing the calliope crashed to the ground

Some all-hot half-shot was headin’ for the hot spot snappin’ his fingers clappin’ his hands,

And some fleshpot mascot was tied into a lover’s knot with a whatnot in her hand

And now young Scott with a slingshot finally found a tender spot and throws his lover in the sand

And some bloodshot forget-me-not whispers daddy’s within earshot save the buckshot turn up the band

And she was blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
She got down but she never got tight, but she’ll make it alright

From “Blinded By The Light”
Written by Bruce Springsteen

This L.O.T.W. is sponsored by Audio-Technica’s Artist Series Rebates.

  • Tim Lynch

    If I didn’t know the song, I’d think it was a bad rap song. It just goes to show you that you never know what might make it as a song, especially from just the lyrics.

  • G.Smith

    Done better by Manfred Mann than even da Boss… what happened to these narrative fictions anyway?

    Just curious…George

  • New Pilot


    I hate this fricken song but those lyrics are pretty sweet! I love all the internal rhyming… really helps the words roll right off your tongue, ya know!?

    I can’t even stand Bruce Springstein but you’ve got admire his songwriting abilities. These lyrics in particular remind me a lot of Billy Joel.


    kevin o.
    new pilot

  • John Johnson

    Loved the song back in the day but I never understood the lyrics, but what the hell, I never undstood a lot of things.

  • ark

    Genius lyrics actually…but you need to be in the ‘season’ (time) of your life to appreciate them…then you’ll listen over and over again because you know they mean something…Bruce has a way to describe emotions…like art, he paints us a picture…you just need to view it as such, art!

  • Dean

    Love the song but the lyrics are ridiculous; about as dumb as some of Jim Morrison’s acid tripping nonsense.

  • Laura

    Wow-what bizarre lyrics! You’d have to be high on shrooms
    or something of that ilk to write something like this!!!

    Who’d of thunk??


  • Major Tom

    Bob Dylan meets Chuck Berry along Route 9, instead of Highway 61. A pretty classic piece of rock and roll history, but not “Hungry Heart”, “Darkness at the Edge of Town”, “Jungleland” or “Promised Land.” That being said, if I can pull off one song like this before I enter that deep and narrow bed, I will be very happy with the achievement.

    Yours, Major Tom and his Band of Deserters

    Soon–Major Tom’s Phantom Menace Radio Hour on our myspace music site.

  • Mitch K

    Was this a visionary poet breaking new ground or just a young upstart trying to impress us with his ciphering bravado. I tend to think the latter, but there’s no denying that these catchy verbal pyrotechnics are now part of Americana!

  • Colin lucre

    I always thought that as he said himself this was a case of ‘the adolescent pumping his way into his hat’. Sexual reference i would guess but who knows?
    It’s all over the place and so self consciously pseudo literate. But he was clever enough to link it to an upbeat and catchy chorus. Fortunately for us all the makings of a subtle, persuasive and gifted songwriter were there in among this alphabet soup. It holds out hope to all songwriters that you can begin writing High school poetry that would garner an F and end up creating ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ and ‘Devils and Dust’

  • Murray Wilde

    Whether you love em or hate em, there’s no doubt that lyrical works like this are derived from a very creative mind. Do they have any deep-seated meaning or relevance to them? Perhaps, but likely only Springsteen would know for certain. I never realized that he had written the song, probably due in part that at the time he was unfamiliar to me.

    Though the song was a favourite of mine and a major hit by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, I couldn’t understand much of what was being said. Like many songs from that era though, it was a combination of the vocal, melody, and instrumentation that drove the song and understanding the storyline was secondary.

    As a side note, Neil Young wrote a song in 1970 titled “After the Gold Rush” (made popular by the group “Prelude”) that began with the lines:

    “Well, I dreamed I saw the knights in armor coming
    Sayin’ something about a queen
    There were peasants singin’ and drummers drumming
    And the archer split the tree
    There was a fanfare blowin’ to the sun
    That floated on the breeze
    Look at mother nature on the run in the nineteen seventies”

    Dolly Parton was among several other artists who later covered the song. She was known to have asked Young what the lyrics in the song referred to. His reply was, “Hell, I don’t know. I just wrote it. It just depends on what I was taking at the time. I guess every verse has something different I’d taken.”

    Perhaps the Boss might have a similar explanation for his source of inspiration.

  • john

    I say Poop to these lyrics.

  • Motmot

    A classic rock tune. Strange as the lyrics are, the music pulls it off.

  • Eliza

    You know, this makes me think that sometimes you can’t separate the lyrics from the music; sometimes they are one critter and the one cannot be fully understood without the other to inform it. Is that possible?

  • John

    I love this song even with the strange lyrics!!!

  • Wayne

    After 24 rejections at NSAI and a win with A.S., the music business makes no sense. I write because I love to write. Oh, this lyric? It doesn’t make any sense either.

  • Steve M Brit

    Bruce said on the VH1 ‘Storytellers’ show he recorded that the lyrics to this song were written with the help of a rhyming dictionary – hence the weirdness. As to ‘what it means?’ to me it’s pretty clear it follows the theme of a number of his songs on the first two albums, it’s about growing up and the characters you surround yourself with when you’re young.

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