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Youngstown

by

Bruce Springsteen



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This is about an unemployed steelworker in Youngstown, Ohio. Most people think that Bruce is singing this song to a woman named Jenny ("my sweet Jenny I'm sinkin' down" etc.), but "Jenny" is the nickname given to the Blast Furnace at Youngstown steelworks - The Jeanette Blast Furnace (named after the daughter of W.A. Thomas, who was the President of Brier Hill Steel). It's common practice at steelworks to have nicknames for blast furnaces - for example, at Scunthorpe steelworks in the UK the four furnaces are known as Bess, Victoria, Anne and Mary (after 4 Queens of England/Britain). The fact that Bruce's character is singing to the furnace, rather than a person, changes the song considerably. (thanks, Alex - Newport, Scotland)
Springsteen wrote this as part of a series of songs on The Ghost Of Tom Joad where one character develops into another.
This revisits a common Springsteen theme: the division between the wealthy and the working class.
Springsteen performed this on the 1999 E-Street Band reunion tour.
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen Artistfacts
More Bruce Springsteen songs
More songs with names of cities in the title
More songs about people with financial problems

Comments (18):

Great song from a great CD; rates right up there with 'Nebraska'. Especially liked "Highway 29"!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Growing up in Youngstown when it was one of the largest steel making cities in the country just to watch it dwindle down to ashes was hard to watch. I remember as a kid on a warm summer night you could see the reddish orange glow of molten steel in the skies from different mills along the river as it was being poured. It was booming town with huge mansions lined up on Logan Ave. for miles and miles. Youngstown was also a place where the Warner brothers lived a good part of their young lives. Jack Warner worked as a young man cutting meat in a butcher shop downtown. When he sold the Warner Brothers Studios he commented on who would have thought a young butcher from Youngstown, Ohio could end up so well off. But her best days are behind her and a lot of its children have grown and moved on. But it's amazing how many miss this area and eventually move back home. If you ever have a chance to Google its' history, you'll be amazed at some of the successful people who were from Youngstown.
- Neal, Youngstown, OH
He played this song in Stockholm this summer ( Instead of playing Ghost of Tom Joad) I love both songs but i am so happy that he played this one cause ever since i saw the Live In New York DVD for the first time i have loved it, and he played a electric version of it wich totally blew my mind.
I also think the line " Once I made you rich enough/ Rich enough to forget my name" is one the best lines in a song, ever.
- Sami, Stockholm, Sweden
The song is a great tribute.
The music is also great and it should be...Bruce apparently stole it from Bob Segar's "Turn the Page"!
- Christian, PA, PA
The song is based on Michael Williamson book "Journey to Nowhere" and tells the actual story of two steelworkers, father Ken Platt Sr, and son, Ken Platt Jr.

Taconite (iron ore), coke and limestone are the feedstock of a blast furnace. The scarfer burns off any irregularities of finished steel. The Jeannette blast furnace, "sweet Jenny", was taken out of blast 1977 and demolished two decades later.
- Susanna, Helsinki, Finland
The song is based on Michael Williamson book "Journey to Nowhere" and tells the actual story of two steelworkers, father Ken Platt Sr, and son, Ken Platt Jr.

Taconite (iron ore), coke and limestone are the feedstock of a blast furnace. The scarfer burns off any irregularities of finished steel. The Jeannette blast furnace, "sweet Jenny", was taken out of blast 1977 and demolished two decades later.
- Susanna, Helsinki, Finland
Good tune.
- Bruce, Johnstown, PA
I am originally from Steubenville, another mill town sixty miles south of Youngstown. It strikes me as uncanny how Springsteen ( and likewise Billy Joel's Allentown) can capture the flavor and poignancy of the entire steel making process.
- Rob, Detroit, MI
My best friend's dad worked the steel mills in Youngstown. He told me this song pretty much says how he and many others feel about it all.
- Greg, Grand Rapids, MI
I live in Youngstown,and this song fits everything down to a T. My father, uncle, grandfather, and countless other relatives all worked the mill until close. The closing hit the family pretty badly since there wasn't much else to do here at the time.
- Frank, Youngstown, OH
Glenn from New Zealand don't sweat it. Popularity of yesteryears rockers comes and goes. Bruce will be hot again in 10 years or so, like Zeppelin is now and the Beatles are always coming and going and around we go. Things go in cycles. Cripes even the Monkeys got hot awhile ago. People will continue to rediscover Bruce as long as forever is around.
- mark, worcester, MI
I agree with the posters here on the Nils Lofgren solo. What a vastly underated guitar player. He added a lot to the E Street Band. I love Bruce and Miami Steve, and I've seen them a ton like I'm sure you guys have, but they aren't in the same guitar picking league with Lofgren. This song live is "Living Proof" :)
- mark, worcester, MI
This is one of only about 10 songs I like of Springsteen's since the River album. The electric version of this song on the live in New York City cd is incredible. The lyrics on this song are some of Bruce's best
- Steve, Fenton, MO
As a lifelong resident of Youngstown, Ohio this song hits close to home obviously. My grandfather worked at the steel mill until they closed. Reminds me of him. Bruce came and sang this song here. Nice to see Bruce put us on the map and to bring to light the sad story that is the steel mills in Youngstown and other similar cities.
- Phil, Youngstown, OH
Agreed - some of Bruce's best writing ever. How about this line? Brilliant.
Once I made you rich enough/
Rich enough to forget my name
- tom, hartford, CT
One of my favorite songs ever... Heard it first at a Boss' show in Paris around 1999. Nils' solo is awesome and lyrics need no comment! I read something like "Springsteen's version of Dylan's 'With God On Our Side'" ; there's something with it.
- Thomas, Reichshoffen, France
I´m agree with Glenn. Most of the lyrics from The Ghost of Tom Joad album are great verses from a great poet.When this song was performed in the Reunion Tour 1999-2000, it included an amazing guitar solo by Nils Lofgren
- Carlos, Albacete, Spain
Its disappointing you have so few comments posted about Springsteen, I couldn't stand that you didn't have the lyrics for this song - so I've submitted them. Whats wrong with the world?! Are we just going to forget about this/last century's poets? "When I die I don't want no part of heaven, I would not do heavens work well, I pray the devil comes and takes me, To stand in fiery furnaces of hell."
- Glenn, Dunedin, New Zealand
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