"I swear I'll drive all night again, just to buy you some shoes."
--Drive All Night, The River
When I posted about the top 100 Springsteen songs, it was not only a blatant attempt at getting you to click on the links and read our archives. I also listed the songs to spotlight those we haven't yet discussed in roughly 200 blog posts. The highest ranking song was "Drive All Night", coming in at number 14.
While there is no denying the popularity of "Drive All Night", the song never quite clicked with me. Tucked in at the end of The River's second album, it is yet another song covering the topics of cars and women. And while I do love songs dedicated to the ladies, it is the car aspect that loses me.
As a city dweller for roughly 10 years, I've come to embrace public transportation. Many people hate public transportation, preferring to go where they want at whatever time they want. However, a car is a very expensive investment, as gas and maintenance can cost a pretty penny. I always saw the freedom gained by using a car cancelled out by the options you lose by having less money. Furthermore, as the functional alcoholic that I am, I prefer being able to drink as much as I want, whenever I want, and not have to worry about how to get home. In addition, you can sleep on public transportation, or read a book, or write a blog article....
Anyway, back to the song. While Clarence's solo in the middle is fantastic, the song is too long, and doesn't have the dramatic flair of other eight-minute-plus Bruce epics like "Jungleland" or "New York City Serenade". But what sticks in my craw about this song is the lyrics in the chorus. Driving all night, for a pair of freaking shoes?!?
First of all, the narrator of this song must have nothing going on in his life. Seriously, does he not have to work in the morning? How can he justify such a long journey for something so frivolous? And this isn't an easy mission - not only is it taking all night, but he is battling the wind, the rain, and the snow! And what kind of woman would be impressed by this? I know that if I came back at 4 in the morning on a harsh winter night and gave my girlfriend a pair of shoes, she'd think I was insane. This is the only scenario in my mind where this songs makes sense:
Bruce and his lady friend were having a nice Italian dinner, that she cooked all day. While Bruce is slurping up his pasta fagioli, he gets marinara on his girlfriend's shoes. The horror! And, to top it off, his girlfriend is a nurse, and she has to wear those boring nurse shoes to work (she can't work in high heels or designer shoes), and her shift starts at 5AM. So, Bruce, to make it up, goes out driving all night to find an all-night shoe-store.
You know, that story I just pulled out of my ass isn't half-bad. If you have the same issues with the song as I do, try remembering this back story to give it more context.