Streets of Philadelphia (1993)

Bruce Springsteen

Air your thoughts on this DNA Source Song™ or suggest another worthy of the designation at Rock Populi.

Ominous, admonitory, “Streets Of Philadelphia” stands as one of Bruce Springsteen’s landmark achievements, an exploration of the sinister effects of bigotry, an indictment and a public hanging of the devils who cause such problems. 

I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone 
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
Black and whispering as the rain
On the Streets of Philadelphia

It received every “official” accolade imaginable. Anyone who has ever doubted Springsteen’s soulfulness, and his desire to pinpoint the social ills lingering around the dusty skirts of American exceptionalism needs to listen to this song.

When the most vulnerable – in this case those beaten into pulp by the AIDs epidemic – are cast out, denied the most fundamental rights, the essential dignity of being a human being, we show our moral failures, and succumb to the dark glamor of evil.

The movie Philadelphia – about the bigotry against gay people and the shunning of AIDs victims – is piercing. The song “The Streets Of Philadelphia” boils the film down and exposes the bitter brew the merchants of hatred would have the rest of us drink.

That the movie and song are set in one of the “cradles of liberty,” the “city of brotherly love,” is painfully perfect. There’s that Liberty Bell hanging over a nation’s conscience.

Let freedom ring. Thanks Bruce.