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He did not want hits, not then. He wanted something else, something harder to describe. My job at Alisa is monotonous and soul draining. Oh, it has sitcom elements — I am still young and detached enough to see that. Once he takes me and a couple of warehouse guys, puts us in a truck, drives us off somewhere without explaining where or why. We end up in a ritzy neighborhood. Turns out the owner of the factory needs his couch moved. And so we move his couch.

There is the preposterous nature of the actual work — my job is to move boxes of yarn here, no, over there, no, back here, no, leave it there until later. Still, at its core, there is little funny about the place or the job.


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Alisa is day after day after day after day after day of endless work that never gets completed. My ears ring for hours afterward, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I still hear those machines. I make it through the first couple of weeks on adrenaline and exuberance, and make it through the next two on the promise of owning my very first car.

But at that point, one month in, I lose all inspiration. I work all day on automatic pilot — I become proficient with hand trucks, I surprise myself with how much strength I build up, I try to hide in the gaps between the boxes every now and again, I sweat off 20 pounds that, at the time, I did not have to lose. I go home exhausted and desperate for something … something hard to explain. And the next morning I wake up at the kick of the bed, into the blurry picture of my father dressed and ready, stumble into my jeans and into the Pontiac and go through it all again.

I believe that this will not be my life. I suppose this is what keeps me sane. This is not my life. This is only temporary. I tell myself this many times. Not really. I do not know what I can do.

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I have a hard time looking at my life realistically. Badlands, I think, might be the quintessential Bruce Springsteen song, about defiance in the face of the bitter winds of daily life. Something In The Night is about two people trying to find escape in the night but getting caught at the state line.

Prove It All Night — this was an entire album about endless nights leading into unchanging days, the same endless nights that inspired a million country songs, a million short stories, a million brilliant paintings and almost every sad thing Frank Sinatra ever sang. Anyway, this is what I hear when I listen to the songs. The album is dim and black and unrelenting, there is no escape. There is not even one hopeful song on the album. And yet, the album is not without hope. The music is the hope. The music soars and it swoops down, and it grinds, and it quiets to near silence.

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The band played it, and they knew it was great, knew that it might be the best song that Bruce Springsteen ever wrote. And it fit on the album, it was in many ways everything that Springsteen was trying to say on the album. Only Springsteen could not let go of it. The song was too close to him. He has never been able to explain it any better than that.

Some think it is about his fear of losing himself in success, his fear of losing what he thought was the best part of himself. Some think it is about his friends who got left behind. Like all great songs, all great art, it only matters what it means to the person who accepts it. Then he stopped doing that too. By the time he released it in on 18 Tracks — the first version I first heard — it was a different song, more wistful, less bitter, more sad, less rebellious, all piano.

Springsteen is 61 now and he writes now that these songs are like old friends. The version I heard is about a car ride to the factory …. Thunder Road For the lost lovers and all the fixed games Thunder Road For the tires rushing by in the rain. No, the memory is of that rainy day in North Carolina, my father driving, me staring out the window, both of us sitting in what would become my first car.

That Pontiac did not have a It struggled to go uphill. And I think, for the first time, I understood, really understood, what my father did. My father did not drink. He did not rage.

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He did not race cars in the street. He smoked two packs of Kents a day, and he bowled on Sundays, and he played chess with a club one night a week. He came home with oil on his pants, and salami on his breath. He fell asleep in front of the television. Sports, maybe. Television, maybe. Factory politics, maybe. I only remember the rain — the tires rushing by in the rain — and the way the wipers squeaked against the windshield.

I still had years and the promise to shield me. My father was smarter than I was — still is smarter than I am.

follow My father, like all men of his generation it seemed to me , could fix anything, could solve anything, could lift anything — I had none of these skills. My father also could play chess with grandmasters. My father could hit any target with a rifle though he hated guns; he had learned to shoot in the Army.

My father could dribble a soccer ball forever, it seemed, and throw pop-ups high above my imagination, and quote lines word for word from any song of the s. And this was his life, this morning drive to the factory, every morning, for another sunless day in the howl of sweater machines. I had this weird experience a couple of weeks ago — I was on a plane, and I was watching the movie Invincible, you know, the one about Vince Papale, the Philadelphia bartender who tried out and made the Eagles in the s. I had seen it before. It was just a corny line in a corny movie on a plane heading to the next city and the next assignment, and dammit, I felt tears in my eyes.

What kept my Dad going? In the car that day, I finally figured it out … finally figured out what kept Dad going through all those long, dull, painful, agonizing days at the factory. The rain kept coming down, but gently, a gentle rain, and we stopped for our biscuits, and then we pulled up to the factory just as the gray darkness turned to light. Memory is a funny thing, Joe. I remembered this piece - because of course - but what stuck with me was the image of the wipers.

I would have sworn that was a recurring image - not just the rain, but the wipers. Anyway, glad to follow to the new platform. Hope it works out!

JoeBlogs Subscribe. About Archive Sign in. The Promise No. Login Privacy Terms. Sign up to like post Subscribe. Ari Jun When I reached the counter, like clockwork, the song started in on the overhead speakers. We watched for hours on end, willing MTV to play it again. And then … the band disappeared.

It never released another record. It never toured all that extensively. And of all places it could show up, nearly 20 years after unleashing the mammoth single on the worldwide populace, the group will play the CityLights Pavilion on Saturday with Devo and the Psychedelic Furs.

That rudimentary drum machine loop.

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The lurking synths. The confluence of their voices, the mysterious baritone singing the lead and the crystalline tenor bringing up the chorus. Basic, yes.