Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (Springsteen Track-by-Track #4)

Bruce Springsteen - Greetings

Bruce Springsteen - Greetings

Hey bus driver keep the change
Bless your children, give them names
Don’t trust men who walk with canes
Drink this and you’ll grow wings on your feet

Springsteen at his most Dylan-esque, a mantle he wore poorly while protesting he didn’t want it in the first place. Does This Bus… is a trifle of wordplay that doesn’t quite hold together – the rhymes are sloppy, sharp phrases are undermined by non sequiturs.

Wizard imps and sweat sock pimps
Interstellar mongrel nymphs
Rex said that lady left him limp
Love’s like that (sure it is)

The studio production of this track is musically inconsequential, starting with thin treble piano mimicking the quick-strum acoustic guitar underneath. Bass and drums enter in the fourth bar (they don’t kick in like you want), overplaying and underwhelming. This song is a good example of why drummer Vini Lopez was a poor fit with Springsteen.

The original acoustic guitar-only version (from the famous John Hammond audition) is more enjoyable, because we’re not distracted by overdubbed weak-assed backup. Subsequent E Street band renditions, Max Weinberg on drums and filled out with dirty sax and organ, reveal muscular underpinnings not originally apparent.

I do like how the tempo slows at the end, suggesting a bus pulling over to let off passengers. The narrator is (perhaps) enthralled by his own dream vision of a woman – runny-eyed and sloppy-nosed but radiant in his imagination.

Señorita, Spanish rose
Wipes her eyes and blows her nose
Uptown in Harlem she throws a rose
To some lucky young matador

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