Treasured Track: Bruce Springsteen – “Hungry Heart”

Our favorite songs are timeless. Even with years separating us from the last time we heard them, these songs call us back to bygone eras of our lives. Some of them helped us through heart wrenching breakups while others remind us of late nights spent with best friends. In this feature I reflect on the tracks that I’ve obsessed over in the past and always welcome back to my headphones in the present.

Hungry Heart” is the first song I ever sang at karaoke (shout out to DJ Milo Spriggs at The Froggy Dog), and I’ll always love it for that alone. It’s upbeat as hell with its keyboard foundation and Bruce shouting out encouragement to the audience, but it’s also the story of a man who’s abandoned his family. I’m struggling to think of another fun pop rock song that begins with a line as shocking as, “Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack. / I went out for a ride and I never went back.”

Even with that, “Hungry Heart” is undeniably appealing. It’s a song begging to be sung along to, joyous in tone if not in context. And even if the narrator has done something despicable, one thing he isn’t guilty of is speaking untruths. Even the most cynical person would find it hard to deny the final verse, spoken in common language without any pretense: “Everybody needs a place to rest, / Everybody wants to have a home. / Don’t make no difference what nobody says, / Ain’t nobody like to be alone.”

Coincidently, today while listening to This American Life I heard about how babies raised in orphanages without any kind of love would simply die. “Hungry Heart” begins by introducing us to a terrible husband/father, and it ends by reaffirming our need find to a connection in life that helps us feel fulfilled. We can distrust the man while appreciating the message. You’re a master, Bruce.

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