Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen, born not too far from us in Long Branch, New Jersey on September 23, 1949, went to become one of the greatest rock and roll artists of our time. With close to 300 songs, 23 grammys, and the presidential medal of freedom, you can see Bruce Springsteen is a legend. The Springsteen family name was Dutch, even though his father was Irish and his mother was Italian. Douglas Springsteen, his father, did not have a great relationship with his son due to being in depression.
Bruce’s mother, Adele Springsteen, was the breadwinner of the house, employed as a legal secretary while is father was mostly unemployed. His life was not perfect financially even though his mother worked, being one of the poorer American families struggling to make end meet. “What would I conceivably have written about without him? I mean, you can imagine that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I would have written just happy songs, They shaped my politics, and they alerted me to what is at stake when you’re born in the U. S. A. ”
Bruce is saying here that without the faults he went through with his father, he still honored his parents, which helped him shape the lyrics of his uture songs. As well as school teachers and nun bullying him and calling him a “loner”, because he was so intune with his guitar. Feeling greatly unappreciated by how he was treated, Bruce never went to highschool graduation and dropped out of Ocean County College. Some of his songs explain the views on the Vietnam War because when Bruce was 18, he refused to go when drafted for military service in the war.
Though in his teen years, he said he sought for “surrogate father figures”, which was a great part of his life. Tex Vinyard was that father figure he sought to find, who let local teen bands practice in their home. Bruce talks about how Tex was loving, accepting, and encouraged his talents in his own twisted way. “He took you for who you were and put his time, muscles, money and big black Cadillac, hauling equipment, all in service of your dreams”, said Bruce, explaing how Tex made a better role model in his life than his father.
Growing up listening to Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles, showed the courage of how Bruce had one intention, to be a musician. His mother bought him his first guitar costing $18, and started to play in a band called The Rogues. Moving on, Bruce was sponsored by Tex, which isplayed his first gig at a trailer park on Route 34, playing for The Castiles. Bruce explored many different genres from blues to rock n roll during the years playing in different bands and forming his own as well. His success started with the audition at Columbia Records which initially made them compare him to Bob Dylan.
Signed to Columbia Records in 1972 by Clive Davis, Bruce Springsteen formed his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park. Bruce Springsteen gained more fame as he kept bringing out more albums. His lyrics brought love to many people, on to political, and historical views. Roulette, a song hat pointed out the view of life being affected by the technology that us humans have built. The song was written based on the event of a meltdown of a nuclear power plant. At the time of the meltdown, there were a lot of arguments about the use of nuclear energy.
The arguments were directed to the safety and environmental concerns, since it was one of the newer technologies that hasn’t been properly tested over a long period of time. The meltdown was at a nuclear power plant called Three Mile Island, was located in Pennsylvania. At 4:00am on March 28, 1979, the second unit of the plant was destroyed. Bruce Springsteen wrote the song to show what it was like to live through the power plant meltdown and how it changed him as a person. Lyrics flowed upon as he taught about how the event affected families in the moment and related it to him, realizing if that were to happen him or his family.
The song was recorded at The Power Station in New York on April 3, 1979. Roulette was first song released on the album, The River, but later was released in 1988, again on the album named, Tracks. It was reported that there were no injuries or health problems that arose from the accident. Still Bruce Springsteen wanted to speak out for future references of the fear that something terrible could happen in an event like the Three Mile Island meltdown. “It was the first song we cut for The River and maybe later on I thought it w tell was more of a general one.
I may have just gotten afraid-it went a little over the top, which is what’s good about it. In truth it should have probably gotten put on. It would have been one of the best things on the record and it was just a mistake at the time-you get over sensitive when you’re going to release the things. ” -MOJO interview, 1998. Bruce was saying that the story he was trying to say, he went to far and made it a little over exaggerated. I still think that it was a song made to change the mindset of the people in dangerous situations and what can happen to your family in an event like a meltdown.
We left the toys out in the yard I took my wife and kids and left my home unguarded We packed what we could into the car too specific, and the story I started to No one here knows how it started Suddenly everything was just so out of control Now I want some answers, mister, I need to know I hear all the talk but I don’t know what you’re sayin’ But I think I got a good idea of the game that you’re playin’ Remembering that the story is trying to tell is not real but his interpretation what happened to those families that went through the meltdown.
In this one phrase, Bruce starts the story right away when he talks about leaving everything behind and trying to run away as fast as possible with his family. It’s a very strong statement to speak about leaving toys in the yard while you’re rushing to save your family from a disaster that is pondering upon them. Springsteen then says how everything is just getting out of control, which is very realistic in a sense that eople would be going out of their minds. Bruce ends the stanza with calling this movement a game called roulette.
This is where he gets the name of the song, but before the next stanza he says he has just an idea of the game he’s playing. Roulette, that’s the name Roulette, that’s the game now Roulette, I don’t know what they’re saying’ Roulette, everybody’s playin’ Confirming what he said about calling the situation of helping his family and leaving everything behind a game called roulette. I feel that this was an interesting and unique way of telling the story, all by explaining it with just one word.
Everyone in this event of the Three Mile Island, was all following the same steps together trying to get their family out of there and into a safe place, that why Bruce says “everybody’s playin”. Before he says this he says “roulette the name” in a sense that he is realizing what they calling referring to what the people would call this chaos of an event. “I don’t know what they’re saying”, Bruce then said that probably everyone was going crazy trying to run away and he doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but he knows they playin roulette.
I grew up here on this street Where nothing’ moves, just a strange breeze In a town full of worthless memories There’s a shadow in my backyard I’ve got a house full of things that I can’t touch Well all those things won’t do me much good now I was a fireman out at Riker’s, I did my job Mister, I’ve been cheated, I feel like I’ve been robbed I’m the big expendable, my life’s just canceled null and void Well what you gonna do about your new boy Springsteen goes deeper within story, talking about the scenery of the song.
This is because of the meltdown, he has to leave the same street he has grew up all these years. Referring to hose families who just had leave to everything behind, their whole house, the road they lived on, and their town. Bruce then says that he was a fireman, probably referring to the first responders helping in the incident at Three Mile Island. After that he talks about being cheated and robbed, then his life canceled. Referring to how firefighters could have gotten hurt or died during this event.
Roulette, you’re playin’ with my life Roulette, with my kids and my wife Roulette, every day the stakes get bigger Roulette, a different finger on the trigger Roulette is apparently playing with his life because it changing t the moment everything, you’re going somewhere other than home, and you are full of fear. The next lines, talking about stakes getting bigger and a different finger on the trigger, is all relating to his feeling about how Three Mile Island affected people as it grew worse.
Down by the river that talks The night speaks in searchlights And shortwave radios squawk The police patrol the streets But I’ve left behind the man I used to be Everything he believed and all that belonged to me I tried to find my way out to somewhere where I thought it’d be safe They stopped me at the roadblock they put up on the nterstate They put me in detention but I broke loose and then I They said they want to ask me a few questions but I think they had other plans Now I don’t know who to trust and I don’t know what I can believe They say they want to help me but with the stuff they keep on sayin’ I think those guys just want to keep on playin’ Bruce ends the main story off with a massive stanza of words, and it was said that most songs that he wrote had more word involved than most albums of its time.
Searchilites and radios, Springsteen wants to say in his mind how people are being earched for, due to the great amounts of chaos it must’ve been hard for people to get lost or go missing. He then says he left a man behind which is himself and all his belongings going to find a place that is safe. Bruce is reiterating the same meaning as the beginning of the song about leaving things behind but goes a little deeper. Apparently Bruce has went a slightly rough with these last lines.
I feel that the story did not need this but it added more feeling when he sang it. As he was leaving in his story, he was stopped by a roadblock and went a little crazy so they put him in jail. Roulette, with my life Roulette, with my kids and my wife Roulette, the bullet’s in the chamber Roulette, who’s the unlucky stranger Roulette, surprise, you’re dead Roulette, the gun’s to your head Roulette, the bullet’s spinning in the chamber Roulette, pull the trigger, feel the click No further danger The last stanza was almost the same as the other refrains but Bruce gives the story a really harsh ending. I feel he is explaining how roulette, the game everyone playing in this chaotic incident, is done and dead.
Which is referring to when Three Mile Island was all finished and safe, where everything went back to normal. This song is true explanation of the story telling that Bruce Springsteen commits to putting into his songs. Three mile island was terrible disaster and the made up story by Bruce was an interpretation on how life can change all of sudden and your whole world can change to incident not just this one but any other disaster that could happen. Overall, I really actually like the song, it brought me into a world that never knew music went this far. Music written by Bruce Springsteen really gives the listener a great song but also an intriguing story relating it to himself and others.