Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (1973)

Bruce Springsteen

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
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“Rosalita” comes bucking and reeling out of the shoot like a mad bull let loose at a Rock-N-Roll rodeo.

The result is one of the most powerful and soaring song intros in the history of the genre – surging white-hot as it careens into a seven-minute exaltation on the liberation and heart-pumping desire of young lovers.

The opening keyboard work of E Streeter David Sancious feels like jolts of electric-blue canon fire, and Clarence lays down his seesawing sax as reinforcement. That 26-second instrumental firestorm sets the stage perfectly for a song that’s all about the edge and rebellion of Rock-N-Roll.

The lyric arc of “Rosalita” winds wildly through the story of star-crossed young lovers – Bruce as the badass rocker, Rosalita as the innocent – the Boss’s version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

Now I know your mama she don’t like me
‘Cause I play in a rock and roll band
And I know your daddy he don’t dig me
But he never did understand

Papa lowered the boom
He locked you in your room
I’m comin’ to lend a hand
I’m comin’ to liberate you
Confiscate you
I want to be your man
Someday we’ll look back on this
And it will all seem funny

Bruce taps into the “us versus them” defiance that lies at the heart of Rock-N-Roll – throwing a life-preserver to youthful lovers everywhere. He’s the romantic Rock-N-Roll rescuer and liberator, a knight in torn blue jeans and ratty t-shirt.

He’s the redeemer of the adolescent dream of breaking free from the shackles of our parents and the stifling confines of our surroundings. “Rosalita” shouts hope and inspiration from the rooftops. Against all odds, Bruce won’t be denied:

And my tires were slashed
And I almost crashed but for Lord-have-mercy
And my machine she’s a dud
All stuck in the mud
Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey

Hold on tight
Stay up all night,
‘Cause Rosie I’m comin’ on strong

By the time we greet the morning light
I will hold you in my arms

Who says there are no happy endings? Clearly, they haven’t met Bruce Springsteen, or Rosalita.

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