This song never fails to stimulate the butterflies of nostalgia that lay sleeping within me. Even though I was born long after Springsteen spent his summers on the boardwalk of Asbury Park, the melancholy of the transition between the simpler times of youth and the changes of growing older still resonates with me.
The best lines are at the end of the song, when he sings,
“Sandy, the angels have lost our desire for us / I spoke to 'em just last night and they said they won't set themselves on fire for us anymore / Every summer when the weather gets hot they ride that road down from heaven on their Harleys they come and they go / And you can see 'em dressed like stars in all the cheap little seashore bars parked making love with their babies out on the Kokomo / Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do / This boardwalk life for me is through / You know you ought to quit this scene too”
The things that are held up as magical in youth, “the angels”, as we get older, become coated with the awareness of life’s darker forces. People, things and places lose their magic, their promise, and their innocence. But with these eye opening experiences come the opportunities for a more deliberately meaningful existence, for a more mature love for another.
As we grow in our understanding of all of life’s forces, a part of us will always hold onto a little piece of innocence, the days where we were free to just be and look at the world and others with pureness and trust. It is that tiny treasure we keep with us through life that still allows us to believe, to have faith in something greater than the seemingly futile lives we now lead. It is the promises of youth that fade over time, but never fully disappear, that give life direction and purpose. Like a hot summer night on the boardwalk filled with lovers, dancers, and fortune tellers, the mystery for something magical remains.
For song lyrics, visit: http://www.brucespringsteen.net/songs/4thOfJulyAsburyPark.html