Not many songs depict true socio-economic class differences and changes in the last half century as “My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen has always taken up the anthem of the working class in this country, and this song is no different. Although seemingly a story of one man’s life told in three different parts, he accurately describes what life was like during this time for a young, and probably idealistic, generation.
“I was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
Into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man
I’d sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through town
He’d tousle my hair and say son take a good look around
This is your hometown, this is your hometown”
In the first verse of the song, he introduces himself as a young boy of eight years old, small enough to fit on his father’s lap in the driver’s seat of the car. From other verses in the song, we can assume it’s probably sometime around the early 1950’s during which time, the country was prosperous for the most part. The scene is obviously taking place in a small town, and during that time the economy was good. His father is driving him around their town with the small-town pride that is reminiscent of that era. It also shows how innocent the young eight year old is, and the safety of the age, when a very young boy feels safe running down the streets of his town.
“In `65 tension was running high at my high school
There was a lot of fights between the black and white
There was nothing you could do
Two cars at a light on a Saturday night in the back seat there was a gun
Words were passed in a shotgun blast
Troubled times had come to my hometown”
In the second verse, the social climate has changed. There was so much unrest in the mid-‘60’s with civil rights issues, and the first US troops being sent to Vietnam, that it was a very chaotic time all over the country. The boy in the song is now in high school, and the lyrics speak of a...