“Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen (1984)

Bruce Springsteen was 34 when he recorded Born In The U.S.A., the album that contained “Glory Days”. I am nine years older (as of this writing) than Bruce was when he recorded “Glory Days”. Obviously the song isn’t autobiographical. I’m not sure whether or not Bruce was a baseball pitcher in high school, but he certainly was nowhere near over-the-hill in 1984. Hell, his commercial glory days were still (slightly) ahead of him at the time “Glory Days” was recorded.

I feel like my glory days are…well, ongoing. Or yet to come. I spent most of my teenage years depressed, despairing and confused. I spent most of my twenties in a similar state (or busting my ass off working, rendering myself too tired to be depressed, despairing and confused). Things began to get better once I entered my early thirties, started working a corporate desk job and began seeing a therapist, and while I don’t know if I’m living my best life at 43, I’m certainly living a better life now than I was at 33, 23 or 13. Though if you’d asked me ten or fifteen years ago when my “glory days” were, I would probably have responded with “high school.” Which speaks to a) what a shitty state I was in fifteen years ago, b) how much I’ve romanticized a not-great high school experience and c) how much we can blow our future by focusing on the past-whether we’re concentrating on triumphs, tragedies or (most likely) some combination of the two.

The character Bruce writes about in “Glory Days” may not have actually seen his best days yet. That’s the beauty of life, right? You never know exactly what tomorrow might bring. I’m sure Bruce has written something about that, too, because Bruce writes about everything.

Anyway, “Glory Days” is a fastball straight down the middle (to continue the baseball theme of the song). It’s an identifiable character study (Springsteen is great at those) with a fantastic hook. It’s tailor-made for rock radio, but doesn’t sound focus-grouped or jaded. The E Street Band sounds like they are having the time of their lives playing. It’s what made a song about something I could never have related to at the time it was popular (I was all of nine years old) so appealing to me. And lived experience has made it more appealing and relatable, even if I’m not quite ready to say my glory days are behind me.

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