Bruce Springsteen

My Hometown

Composed by Bruce Springsteen

Song Review by

"My Hometown" is the somber, low-key concluding song on Bruce Springsteen's most popular album, 1984's Born in the U. S. A. A simple, gently played melody supports four verses that describe the narrator's life and the small town in which he lives. In the first verse, he remembers being eight years old and driving through town with his father, who says, "This is your hometown." The second verse takes the narrator to high school, and he recalls racial tensions and a specific incident of violence. In the third verse he talks about the town's current state of decline with the closing of a textile mill, and in the fourth he contemplates packing up and leaving, even as he reenacts his father's car trip through town with his own son and repeats, "This is your hometown." The song is consistent with the affection Springsteen has shown for small-town life in previous songs, and with the sense he has often expressed that he needs to leave that life behind. He makes a point of creating a fictional narrator, one who is married to a woman named Kate and who is a father (which Springsteen himself was not at this time), but the observations are true to a person Springsteen's age living in southern New Jersey, and he has said that much of the song is actually autobiographical. "My Hometown" marks yet another development in his ongoing examination of the world of his youth. Where his early characters wanted desperately to get out, this 35-year-old narrator is ambivalent about leaving. Where Springsteen previously expressed conflict with his father and then, in 1978's "Independence Day," dismissed him, here he recalls his father with some affection and even repeats his father's actions. And where he had seen marriage, family responsibilities, and the uncertainty of working-class employment as means by which dreams are destroyed in songs like "The River," here he is comfortable with a permanent romantic relationship and fatherhood and locates dissatisfaction only in an economic downturn. Unlike the often-inflated, poetic descriptions of similar material in earlier songs, the lyrics for "My Hometown" are full of specifics, the language deliberately plain. The song does not offer a solution and doesn't even come to a clear conclusion, and its subtly rhythmic, simple construction has a flow that suggests continuity. Even the music doesn't end, it just fades out. "My Hometown" was released as the seventh and final single from Born in the U. S. A. in the fall of 1985. Like its six predecessors, it reached the Top Ten; it also hit number one on the adult contemporary charts. Springsteen included a concert version of it on the box set Live 1975-1985 in 1986.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Born in the U.S.A. 1984 Columbia 4:33
Greatest Hits 1995 Columbia 4:12
Kuschelrock, Vol. 11 1997
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:09
My Hometown 1998 Sony Music Distribution 4:38
Radio City Love Songs, Vol. 6 1998
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:08
No Image 2014 Sony Legacy 4:39
No Image