Spirit In The Night (1973)

Bruce Springsteen

Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Air your thoughts on this DNA Source Song™ or suggest another worthy of the designation at Rock Populi.

Bruce takes us on the magical, moonlit road trip of a lifetime – sultry and steamy – straight into the heart of youth, friendship, sex and wild-eyed summer wonder. It’s an oozing affirmation of life, as young rebels dance and twist with abandon under the stars.

“Spirit In The Night” opens to a smokey, seductive groove (almost sleazy), with the late, great Clarence Clemons playing the part of the sax-wielding snake charmer as he pulls us into the electric evening breeze.

Crazy Janey and her mission man
Were back in the alley tradin’ hands

‘Long came Wild Billy with his friend G-Man
All duded up for Saturday night

Like only the Boss can, “Spirit” transports us to a place (Greasy Lake) where young friends and lovers – like Crazy Janey, Wild Billy and Killer Joe – stand together at the brink of adulthood and let their hair down one last time. We’ve all been there (or will be soon), somewhere, sometime – rolling with all the glory and attitude of adolescent warriors on a warm, spirited summer night.

By the time we made it up to Greasy Lake
I had my head out the window and Janey’s fingers were in the cake

I think I really dug her ’cause I was too loose to fake 
I said, “I’m hurt”
She said, “Honey, let me heal it”

There’s dancing, drinking, hurting, healing and yes, even fornicating (“in the dirt,” no less). “Spirit” is a crazed, face-painted party out of William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies (required reading for high-schoolers), but in Springsteen’s youthful world, friendship and goodness hold true and the descent into darkness and savagery never comes.

And we danced all night to a soul fairy band
And she kissed me just right, like only a lonely angel can
She felt so nice
Just as soft as a spirit in the night (all night), in the night (all night)

“Spirit” simmers and roars with all the raw energy, confusion, brotherhood and fire-breathing freedom of our fleeting youth (not to be too much of a buzzkill). Sadly it can’t last forever – fading to black and bittersweetness:

Janey said it was time to go
So we closed our eyes and said goodbye to Gypsy Angel Row
Felt so right
Together we moved like spirits in the night (all night), in the night (all night)

“Spirit” is high school. It’s friendship. It’s the rush and wonder of endless possibilities. It’s youth bottled up, banging around in a five-minute Rock-N-Roll song – and damn does it feel right.

And they dance like spirits in the night (all night), in the night (all night)
Oh, you don’t know what they can do to you

Spirits in the night (all night), in the night (all night)

Stand up right now and let them shoot through you

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