There’s an air of machismo that surrounds the work of Bruce Springsteen that is hard to ignore. It may well be that The Boss simply operated as the beating heart of America’s heartland or that his somewhat cliched penchant for denim and motorbike always made him appear to be a bastion of male strength.
Whichever way you cut it, to see Springsteen as anything but a man’s man is to change the chemical structures of the artist and the art he’s created. However, to assume that simply because of this energy, Springsteen isn’t capable of a beautiful love song is to leave yourself wanting.
The truth is, Bruce Springsteen is an old romantic in every sense of the word. His dynamic behaviour has always closely emulated that of a Hollywood leading man, preferring to chase heroics and justice rather than skirts. Springsteen has always pursued the greater good over cheap thrills in the recording studio and on stage.
Equally, the songs he has written over the years have been so widely varied that when he does utter the more romantic moments of his canon, they land with a sincerity that only Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart can muster.
The Boss has always approached the subject of love from a unique standpoint. While some contemporaries would allow their inner-florist to conjure up perfumed imagery and flowery lyrics that fade away within the week, Springsteen prefers a more battle-hardened approach, moving toward love songs with his sword drawn and his teeth clenched. It’s part of what makes his songs so beautiful relatable, and wholly attainable. However, there is only one song that Springsteen himself would call the greatest he’s ever written.
‘Rosalita (Come out Tonight) is one of those songs that transcends whatever venue or situation you happen to hear it in. It can stop the very fabric of time with its charm and leave you daydreaming of your own romantic rites of passage. Springsteen clearly holds this track in high esteem. It’s an effervescent number, too, positively bristling with intent and demanding attention the only way Springsteen knew how. This song is all about young love and the excitement it brings, making this easily our favourite moment on the album.
The track also works as an autobiography of sorts for Springsteen. Having relentlessly toured around Jersey for most of his formative years, the artist would refer to the song as “my musical autobiography. It was my ‘getting out of town’ preview for Born To Run, with more humour,” Springsteen confirmed in his book Songs from 1998. “I wrote it as a kiss-off to everybody who counted you out, put you down, or decided you weren’t good enough. The lyrics also took a peek into the future – ‘Someday we’ll look back on this, and it will all seem funny.’ Not that it would BE funny, but that it would all SEEM funny. Probably one of the most useful lines I’ve ever written.”
Elsewhere, Springsteen‘s girlfriend at the time of writing, Diane Lozito, would claim that her grandmother Rose Lozito would inspire the title of the track. Springsteen also claimed that the song’s inspiration came from the mother of a prospective girlfriend who would call the police if he was spotted, sparking the line: “Mama, she’s home in the window, waitin’ up for us.”
Released in 1973, at the very beginning of Springsteen’s career, it’s a track that sets the scene for the escapism of the forthcoming seminal album Born To Run, as the world dreamed of setting sail across the oceans and heading on the road to nowhere with the one you loved. Its innocence is neatly juxtaposed with the excitement of proceedings. It’s pure joy and, after a conversation with Mojo in 1999, is widely regarded as Springsteen’s favourite love song from his own canon.