The Plagued Parent

posts about surviving our children, the Baby Boomers who raised us, and everyone else with an opinion...

Wounded, Not Even Dead

Driving to work last night I found the Springsteen channel on the satellite radio. The last song I listened to as I pulled into the parking lot was a live version of “Jungleland”  recorded in New York sometime in the early 2000s.

On my way home the last song I caught was the same song, “Jungleland,” recorded live in 1978 in Wisconsin some place.

The Boss bookended my drive. That’s gotta mean something.

Born to Run was loaned to me by my uncle. He said it was a necessity for any record collection. By then I was in high school, it was the 1980s and Bruce’s Born in the USA was at the top of the charts. At the time, while my uncle appreciated Springsteen’s USA album, for its success everything came back to 39 minutes of driving, gritty, rock and roll etched in vinyl immortality.

“Now this,” he said sacredly holding a scuffed up white album cover by its soft edges.  “This is it, man.” The cover showed a hungry, scrawny Springsteen leaning admiringly on the Big Man’s, Clarence Clemons, shoulder as he wailed on his sax. This leather jacketed, long haired rebel with his now classic Stratocaster was a far cry from the bulked up t-shirt clad Boss five years later.

He appears a man of dynamic contrasts and one of profound consistencies as well.

Last night in the car I heard the same song, but differently. Both versions were unique — the early Boss was raspy, young, driving and defiant; the later Boss while still raspy but more plaintive with a quieter intensity.  What struck me was the way each Boss sung the final refrain of the song differently

Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz
Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy
And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife, they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland

1978 Springsteen, the “Born to Run” Springsteen, dives in and driving through these lyrics punching through the night. The 2000s Springsteen sings dark and low deliberating on each and every word; in fact he leaves blank space allowing the audience to sing out the lyrics for him like some preacher waiting for his congregation to pray their parts as the elemental truths of our existence reveal their mystery through the ordinary.

The fates bookended my commute with the gospel according to Springsteen and what truth did “Jungleland” reveal there in the parking lot?

Each day we drive ourselves forward trying “to make an honest stand” and sometimes we “wind up wounded, not even dead.”

Wounded but not even dead.

There’s the key.

We punch through our days, we kick at the night all the while reaching for those moments we’re hoping to grasp. Because we reach, we will fall. It’s natural.

Some moments caress, other will scar; reaching for those moments it’s hard to predict which we’ll end up with a delicate shiver or a deep, unbinding wound. Certainly, given the choice, most of us will take being wounded over being dead any day of the week.

That’s the name of the game, right? Tonight… in… Jungleland…




Updated: November 30, 2017 — 12:34 pm


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  1. The Boss is the MAN! Great insight. Wounds can heal, death…there’s no turning back.

    1. Yes he is. Thanks for the compliment. And so long as we’re breathing things can be made whole again.

  2. It is fascinating to me the transformation of the human spirit. The change in our spirit though we remain the same being. Beautifully put!

    1. Thank you for reading and for the compliment.

  3. Wounded, not even dead, is the human condition while we inhabit the planet. Some more than others and so interesting to see how people handle life’s wounds.

    1. What’s also interesting to me is the variations in the healing process. No two wounds heal in the same way. And no two people heal identically either. Probably the least compassionate thing we can tell someone is “Get over it.” While there might be some deep truth in that statement, sometimes people don’t need the “truth”; sometimes all they need is loving kindness.

  4. I relate to him in deep ways….love him.

    1. I’m hoping that Santa drops Springsteen’s autobiography under the tree. Heard an interview with him on NPR’s “Fresh Air” when the book came out and he’s really, in my opinion, brilliant.

  5. Interesting perspective – but yes to wounded but not dead. I do love a bit of Bruce Springsteen – wonder if I can find that satellite channel in the UK?! 😜

    1. If you go onto the SiriusXM Streaming page its “E-Street Radio”. Lots of live music. Thank you Linda

  6. “Because we reach we will fall.” I love that.

    1. I’m glad you liked that. Thank you.

  7. Wonderful. I’m off to dust off my Springsteen albums, it’s been too long 🙂

    1. Drop that needle and turn it up to 11.

  8. I’ve never listened to Springsteen that much, but I do listen to the Gaslight Anthem and they’re basically nu-Springsteen, with a lot of the same themes. This post though has gotten me to queue up Born to Run on Youtube – we’ll see what comes of it.

    1. There are some great selections on Amazon Music (if you have Prime). Listening as we speak… Thanks Tony.

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