Growin’ Up

Growin’ Up is predictably a song about growing up. The lyrics are about figuring out who you are and carving out your own identity. Already in the first verse the protagonist is trying to blend in, but realises that he really doesn’t want to be a part of the bulk of the ordinary people [when they said, “Sit down,” I stood up].

The entire second verse presents some very powerful and vivid imagery about becoming a rock star, capturing that adventurous and rebellious attitude of youth; [I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school, never once gave thought to landing]. Springsteen sings about aging out of childhood into youth but growing up isn’t something that is limited to our early years, in fact it goes on continuously throughout our entire life.

I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school, never once gave thought to landing

20 years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. That day (May 2nd 1998) marked a new chapter of my life and, obviously, the first chapter of his and also the start of our family’s journey and progress together.

To me having a small baby was a time of great confusion and emotional distress. I felt daunted and overwhelmed. Although I was 25 at that time, I wasn’t quite prepared for the responsibility. Suddenly I was expected to make decisons about another human being and his upbringing. It made me question my values and beliefs. Parenthood is associated with identity at the deepest level. Personal freedom gives way to responsibility. Self-love gives way to other love and you change. I felt I had to fake being a grown-up and to this day I’m still waiting for someone to call my bluff.

Now that 20 years have passed I must say that, though I doubted myself as a parent in the beginning (we’ve had our differences and controversy over the years, as it should be), he has turned out a pretty decent human being. He is intelligent, kind and resourseful. He is well set to become an accomplished contributor to society. I am helplessly and hopelessly in love with my son, and would fight and die for him (I guess every parent say that).

The only regret I have is that I never managed to make a real Springsteen fan out of him. I guess that is his way to be defiant [I hid in the mother breast of the crowd, but when they said, “Pull down,” I pulled up]. He listens to rap music and he listens to the lyrics very closely. He has taught me a great deal about that kind of music and I realise that it is important to find your own personal expression.

If songs about growing up teach us anything, it’s that adolescence never really ends. Musicians love the subject. Not only Springsteen’s lyrics are looking back on your  childhood, reflecting on your teenage years, or articulating the process of getting older. There’s a wealth of wit and wisdom about the ageing process in music – both in rock music and in rap music.

Photo credit: ©L.Kirsch/

Growin’ Up is a song by Bruce Springsteen from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ (1973).

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