AMP: American Music Perspectives
Over the course of his career, Bruce Springsteen returns to certain characters and preoccupations that he first chronicled in his album The River. One recurring scenario involves a man in a committed relationship who becomes dissatisfied, meets a woman at a bar, has an affair (sometimes at a nearby motel), and in the process blows up his seemingly stable life. Each time Springsteen returns to this scenario he offers interesting variations that evolve in perspective and tone. This article charts a musical road trip, beginning with “Hungry Heart” and “Stolen Car” on The River, descending into “One Step Up” on Tunnel of Love, detouring down “Highway 29” on The Ghost of Tom Joad, and culminating at the “Moonlight Motel” on Western Stars. It is a journey encompassing love and loss, faith and betrayal, self-knowledge and self-destruction, and the insatiable hunger for something to fill the void in the directionless lives of his characters.
Herren, Graley, "Hungry Hearts and Broken Dreams at the Springsteen Motel" (2020). Faculty Scholarship. 597.