Last week’s article in The New Yorker has given renewed interest to Bruce’s troubled relationship with his father, Doug Springsteen. The article notes how the two had a very difficult time talking with each other and presents songs like “Independence Day” and “Adam Raised a Cain” as Bruce’s attempts to address their strained relationship in place of direct communication. If these songs were Bruce’s attempts to reach out to a distant father, then “Walk Like a Man” can be seen as a peace offering.
When I first heard this song on the Tunnel of Love album, I focused mainly on the wedding lyrics and thought the song was about a nervous groom praying for the courage to be a good husband. It wasn’t until I heard the solo piano version from this live performance in 2005, that I realized the song was about a son trying to live up to the example set by his father.
This ode to the positive influence of fathers is in stark contrast to the other songs mentioned above and all the more poignant in light of last week’s article.
For this and more of Bruce’s songs about fathers, The New Yorker has a great collection of videos online.