The video quality certainly leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s so great that we have access to footage of Bruce performing “I’m Goin’ Down” during the original Born in the U.S.A. tour (and in New Jersey, no less). This performance not only captures the freewheeling rock ‘n’ roll energy of this fast beat party song, it also features a great preamble from Bruce. Not so much storytelling as it is pontificating, there’s a lot of resentment and cynicism in his description of what it feels like when love goes sour.
I used to watch this video and dream of seeing Bruce perform this song first-hand. I’ve since seen it twice. The first was at the Meadowlands on the Born in the U.S.A. night where the pre-determined nature made it feel a bit anti-climactic. The second time was more satisfying, a surprise at Wrigley Field during the Wrecking Ball tour. Thanks to having seen this concert footage, when Bruce declared that the next song was “for all the lovebirds out there,” I knew instantly what was coming.
“I remember back when we started
My kisses used to turn you inside out”
It’s a tale of lost love, but lyrics like these remind you what it’s like to fall in love, and why the absence feels all the more painful.
I contend that this is one of the happiest sounding sad songs of all time. Its buoyant, infectious melody can seem at odds with the sober, cynical lyrics. I suppose it works to remind the listener why we fall in love in the first place: that joyous exuberance that you can’t really articulate. It’s much easier to put into words how you feel when things are ending.