Red Headed Woman

A classic Bruce Springsteen’s love song isn’t a conventional sentimental romantic fairy-tale. More typical is a realistic delivery of heartbreak and passion, hatred and desire, marriage and divorce and everyday life. Some of them are telling us how love can rip us apart and some of them very directly and explicitly illustrate lust (some of them more metaphorical than other). This entry is about particularly “hot” love songs written and performed by Bruce Springsteen.

The protagonist in Candy’s Room is a young naive boy, who is infatuated and obsessed with a girl who seems to be a prostitute. He is convinced she’s better off with him and that their love/passion is true.

We kiss, my heart’s pumpin’ to my brain and the blood rushes in my veins, the fire rushes towards the skies
We go driving, driving deep into the night. I go driving deep into the light, in Candy’s eyes

Springsteen wrote the song Red Headed Woman to his wife Patti Scialfa and there is no doubt it is about cunnilingus. “Well listen up stud your life’s been wasted til you’ve got down on your knees and tasted a red headed woman”

I don’t care how many girls you’ve dated, man. But you ain’t lived ’til you’ve had your tires rotated by a red headed woman

Pink Cadillac‘s lyrics are, on the surface, about an old car. Some argue old cars are a metaphor for life and for growing old. However, when reading the lyrics closely you realise that the song definitely is about sex. The Cadillac used as a metaphor for a woman’s body (or genitalia?). The lyrics are actually quite suggestive “My love is bigger than a Honda, yeah it’s bigger than a Subaru.” 😳

They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple
But man I ain’t going for that
I know it was her pink Cadillac
Crushed velvet seats
Riding in the back
Oozing down the street

The song I’m on Fire is about a man who wakes up with night sweats lusting for a woman. It’s a powerful portrait of sexual obsession. The protagonist is tormented to know that he can’t have her and that he is better than the guy she’s with.

Reno is about a man having sex with a prostitute in a hotel room in Reno. In the first part they negotiate a deal and then she performs oral sex on him. During the sexual act he is daydreaming of another woman, possibly a wife or a longtime partner where the love seems to have slipped away.

His heart and soul aren’t in that hotel room at all and when they are done they toast: “Here’s to the best you ever had.” He reflects: “It wasn’t the best I ever had, not even close.”

I’m Going Down deals with the singer’s frustration in a romantic relationships that has turned ugly. The girl is playing games with him. She seems to enjoy getting him excited just to give him the cold shoulder.

We come home early burning, burning, burning in some fire fight
I’m sick and tired of you setting me up yeah
Setting me up just to knock-a knock-a knock-a me down

Fire is another song about agonised lust with a member of the opposite sex expressing a heated desire.

Honourable mention (song covered by Springsteen):

Pretty Flamingo is a particularly attractive young woman who every day passes the neighbourhood and all the boys are infatuated and obsessed by her. The narrators dreams of making her his.

Springsteen has covered love from many perspectives. The songs I have mentioned above aren’t love songs likely to be sung on weddings. To me love songs are not only romantic ballads, for the simple reason that’s not how love works. Love is also passion and lust, heartache and despair just as Bruce Springsteen describes it in his songs.

Photo credit: Todd Wong

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