Meet Me in the City is an excellent rocker with a youthful and catchy energy right up my alley. It’s so good it’s hard to believe it was left off the album. It begins with a classic organ riff and drums, before Springsteen comes in, his voice raspy and worn but with some desperate hope lying behind it. The lyrics are a mixture of images ripped from well-known Springsteen territory; you recognise the American landscape from Badlands and Night. Classic city images flash by and suddenly you’re in the same subway station as the guy from It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City. None of it really means anything, except for the refrain — “Meet me in the city tonight” —which despite its apparent silliness seems infused with some deep meaning, beckoning us into the alluring unknown, like maybe the city’s gleaming lights represent a chance of redemption.
Meet Me in the City is probably the most Springsteen song Springsteen has ever written. Its imagery, its mad energy and its directness is American rock ’n’ roll music at its finest. “If you can holler, then say alright ” Springsteen bellows as the song comes to a close demanding the crowd to participate. However, how he goes from the subway station to the killing floor is beyond me. It seems a bit extreme for just parole violation.
Hey girl I’m calling all stations
Blowing down the wire tonight
I’m singing through these power lines
I’m running on time and feeling alright
The song is an outtake from the River album. It was released on The Ties That Bind: The River Collection box set in 2015. It debuted on 15 October 2015 and during the River tour 2016 it was used as an opener and introduction for the shows where the River was played in its entirety from start to finish. Still, some of the backing music must have been recorded way earlier (possibly during the River sessions in 1979-1980) as both Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons are mentioned in the credits.
To me this song indeed represents redemption, deliverance and rescue. It makes me feel happy, free and liberated, like life is giving me a chance to breathe and get away from the harshness of the outside world, if only for 3,5 minutes. Recently my life has taken a turn that I hadn’t expected some years ago and I find myself in a situation where I’m facing new challenges. I’m trying to confront them with confidence and curiosity and with my own strenght and the support of friends I know that things are going to be all right, and I’ll meet you in the city tonight.