Born on the 4th of July

I've been obsessed lately with the Springsteen song "Shut Out the Light". It's about a Vietnam vet coming home and the unsettling reentry process. I didn't know it was inspired by the novel Born on the 4th of July until tonight when I was watching this live 1985 Springsteen performance on YouTube (in which you can tell Springsteen wants all his jubilant 1985 big hair cocaine monkey fans to shut the fuck up and just listen for once).

Here's some Wiki on the novel: "Born on the Fourth of July was written (by Ron Kovic) in Santa Monica, California during the fall of 1974 in exactly one month, three weeks and two days. It tells the story of Kovic's life growing up in Massapequa, New York, joining the United States Marine Corps right out of high school, going to Vietnam for two tours of duty, getting shot, finding himself paralyzed and in need of a wheelchair, and eventually starting a new life as a peace activist.

'I wrote all night long, seven days a week, single space, no paragraphs, front and back of the pages, pounding the keys so hard the tips of my fingers would hurt. I couldn't stop writing, and I remember feeling more alive than I had ever felt. Convinced that I was destined to die young, I struggled to leave something of meaning behind, to rise above the darkness and despair. I wanted people to understand. I wanted to share with them as nakedly and openly and intimately as possible what I had gone through, what I had endured. I wanted them to know what it really meant to be in a war — to be shot and wounded, to be fighting for my life on the intensive care ward — not the myth we had grown up believing. I wanted people to know about the hospitals and the enema room, about why I had become opposed to the war, why I had grown more and more committed to peace and nonviolence.' — Ron Kovic"

I can listen to the studio version of "Shut Out the Light" over and over again. I just put it on repeat when I'm writing and suddenly an hour has passed. Just another example of Springsteen's lifelong mastery of rock lyrics and the dark chill he can occasionally tap.


Alexa said...


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