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Verse Chorus Verse: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – “Girls In Their Summer Clothes”

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In a lovely twist of fate, my ninth entry in the "Verse Chorus Verse" series coincides with my ninth wedding anniversary.

I always feel like such a fraud and a failure when I set out to write about my wife. I feel like a hack because I'm never able to get within three time zones of how I feel and like a fraud because I wind up resorting to mimicking another writer who might have a template that at least comes close. After giving it some thought, I've decided the problem isn't me. I’m blaming English.

I'm not sure if it's true, but more than once I've heard someone say Eskimos have a dozen (or more!) words for "snow." They have an absurd number of words for snow, but we only have one word for "love." We love our favorite food, our favorite sport, our favorite song, our pets, our moms, our children, our schools, our jobs, our gods, and/or our planet and we use the same word for each of them. We don't "radish" our school and "blemish" our kids. We love them both and we expect that everyone understands the difference and they usually do, but isn't it a shame that we're limited by our language to express it?

We have very few synonyms and only a few weak modifiers to convey an infinite range of emotions. Not only is there only one "love," we don't even have many choices when it comes to describing love's intensity or depth.

"I love you so much."

"I love you very much.”

"I am so in love with you."

Once we've exhausted those, we're left with simile and metaphor because the language is fresh out of other options. Simile and metaphor are nice and I've read some writers who have done wondrous things with the devices to convey feelings of love. I suppose that's what the gifted writers do and I'm just not one of them. Still, love seems too important for we, the littles, to have to work this hard at it. Merriam and Webster added "locavore" to their dictionary but haven't gotten any less stingy with "love." There has to be something between Shakespeare and Hallmark.

I'm working on it.


My wife and I don't have an official "our" song. When she reads this, she'll disagree with me, but more than one song has been declared "our" song. We didn't have a formal wedding, so we can't even default to the song we first danced to. I said all that to say that when it came to choosing a song as the backdrop for writing about our anniversary, the choice was obvious.

Last year on a January morning as we were getting ready for work, VH-1 did the unimaginable and played not only a video but a video for a good song. We were surprised to see a video for a Springsteen song being aired and we both stopped what were doing to watch it. Something happened as she watched that video and listened to the song. She became a Springsteen fan and "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" became her song.

Last summer for our anniversary I took her to Nashville to see her first Springsteen concert. I had a laundry list of songs I wanted to hear, having seen Bruce only once before, but what I really hoped for was that Bruce would play her song. For 20 songs, we stood and sang and cheered our hearts out. When the band returned for their encore, Bruce made both of our wishes come true. I beamed. I even shouted out an impromptu, "Thank you, Bruce!"

"Girls" isn't the song in Bruce's catalog most likely to become an "our song" but that's okay because we never got around to settling on a conventional song. Besides, we don't think of ourselves as particularly conventional anyway. Even though "Girls" might not be the obvious choice to anyone else, it works for us. If I had to choose just one part of the song highlight, it would be this:

Hello beautiful thing, maybe you could save my life
In just a glance, down here on magic street
Loves a fool's dance
And I ain't got much sense, but I still got my feet

Even if I didn't have a penchant for self-deprecation, I'd still probably see myself as the stumbling fool in this equation. As we finish year nine and begin our tenth, I can't tell you how many times and how many ways I feel like she's saved my life, but it's not because of an English problem, it's a math problem. After all these years, I just can't count that high any more.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • http://jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    I love “Girls in Their Summer Clothes.” The song, too. Seriously, I think it’s the best and most touching Bruce song in years, an instant classic in my mind. Of course it’s really about an aging guy girls don’t notice anymore, but who’s counting?

    About “love,” there’s a great Woody Allen scene (possibly from Love and Death but I can’t remember for sure which movie) where he’s struggling with exactly the problem you’re talking about – he resorts to insisting, “I love you – I loove you – I lurve you…”

  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh Hathaway

    I haven’t seen that Woody Allen film, Jon, but I’m going to have to check it out for that scene if for no other reason.

    I liked “Girls” the first time I heard it when I bought the album and still think it’s a great vocal and an example of Bruce getting the “pop” thing right. Now it’s more than a “like.” It’s a house favorite.

  • http://willkillforfood.com Lisa McKay

    What a great piece, Josh (and yeah, it’s a great song). Happy anniversary to you both.

  • http://marksaleski.com MarkSaleski

    happy anniversary you two!!

    great song too.

  • http://blogcritics.org/music Josh Hathaway

    Thanks, ‘RoundTablers.’

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/gordon-hauptfleisch Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Great entry, Josh, and a fine use of English, incidentally. The sublime “Girls” is one of those Brian Wilson-style songs (like “This Life”) that I kept playing over and over, and got stuck in my head forever and ever.

    Happy Anniversary to you both. (By the way “Annie Hall” is the “lurve” movie: “Love is, is too weak a word for what I feel – I lurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F’s…”)

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Definitely one of the songs that makes Magic such a great record. Congrats to you and the missus.

    -Glen

  • regina

    I am a big fan I love ur own clothing line I broght some of. Stuff from madstaleby true jackson but reall I want to become like u how do I become like u

  • JC Mosquito

    I’ve always likes “Girls in Their Summer Clothes,” bbut having had time to digest the las two albums by Mr. Springsteen and Ms. Scialfa, I’m starting to be of the opinion that it’s not only the best song off his last two albums by a long shot, it’s the only song that comes close to actualizing that sense of love, loss, nostalgia and acceptance that permeates 23rd Street Lullaby and Play It as It Lays. Who knows – maybe she’s just finally coming into her own – whatever the case, I’d suggest anyone who likes “Girls” should check out Patti Scialfa’s latest albums – solid work by a bona fide songwiter who I hope finally gets her fair share of the spotlight for a while.