Eric Church, “Springsteen”

Written by June 11th, 2012 at 7:00 am

It takes its title from Jersey’s favorite son, but Eric Church’s “Springsteen” isn’t about its namesake — not really, anyway. As Church put it himself, “The interesting part is it’s a love affair that takes place in an amphitheater between two people. It didn’t happen with Springsteen, ironically, it happened with another artist.”

The “it” Church refers to is a feeling anyone who’s loved music for any length of time can identify — the way a song can send you hurtling back to a time and place you thought you’d long since left behind. It’s a bittersweet sensation, not unlike stumbling across a dusty photograph of an old friend in an attic; the rush of recognition may be warm, but it’s fleeting, and it trails memories in its wake.

That’s the emotion at the heart of “Springsteen,” which flashes back to a long-ago night spent wired into the electric heat of young love and live rock ‘n’ roll. “Somewhere between that setting sun / I’m on fire and born to run / You looked at me and I was done,” remembers Church. “And we’re just getting started.”

Any music lover worth his salt has at least a few experiences just like that one — ears ringing, heart spinning, dizzy with love for a girl or a guy and the crowd and the music and, well, life. They stick with you no matter how bad the breakup was, and even if you lose touch with the music, all it takes is a few chords to bring it all rushing back. “Funny how a melody sounds like a memory / Like the soundtrack to a July Saturday night,” muses Church, later adding, “I bumped into you by happenstance / You probably wouldn’t even know who I am / But if I whispered your name / I bet there’d still be a spark.”

It’s appropriate, in a way, that Church co-opted Springsteen’s brand for a song that didn’t even have anything to do with his music, because the type of experience he’s relating here isn’t about any one performer at all. It’s about music in general, and the singular ability a pop song has to anchor us to a place and time, no matter how fleeting or carelessly discarded that moment may have been. Which is the genius of “Springsteen,” really — you might think of a denim-clad rock god when you hear the title, and of course the lyrics make room for country radio touchstones like cutoff jeans and tattoos, but when you actually listen, it probably takes you back to your own moment in the amphitheatre grass, your own sunsets and blindingly bright possibilities, and a time when it seemed like you, you were just getting started.

“Springsteen”

To this day when I hear that song
I see you standin’ there on that lawn
Discount shades, store bought tan
Flip flops and cut-off jeans

Somewhere between that setting sun
I’m on fire and born to run
You looked at me and I was done
And we’re, we’re just getting started

I was singin’ to you, you were singin’ to me
I was so alive, never been more free
Fired up my daddy’s lighter and we sang
“Ooh, Ooh”

Stayed there ’til they forced us out
And took the long way to your house
I can still hear the sound of you sayin’ don’t go

When I think about you, I think about seventeen
I think about my old jeep
I think about the stars in the sky
Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
Like the soundtrack to a July Saturday night
Springsteen

I bumped into you by happenstance
You probably wouldn’t even know who I am
But if I whispered your name
I bet there’d still be a spark

Back when I was gasoline
And this old tattoo had brand new ink
And we didn’t care what your mom would think
About your name on my arm

Baby is it spring or is it summer
The guitar sound or the beat of that drummer
You hear sometimes late at night
On your radio

Even though you’re a million miles away
When you hear “Born in the USA”
You relive those glory days
So long ago

When you think about me, do you think about seventeen
Do you think about my old jeep
Think about the stars in the sky
Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night

Springsteen
Springsteen

Written by Ryan Tyndell, Eric Church and Jeff Hyde

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