Bobby Jean

Album: Born In The U.S.A. (1984)
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  • This was written as a farewell message to guitarist Steven Van Zandt, who left the E Street Band during the recording of Born In The U.S.A. to pursue other projects. Van Zandt returned to the band years later.
  • Springsteen called this "a good song about youthful friendship."
  • In this song, Springsteen sings from the perspective of guy going to visit someone important to him, only to find that this person - Bobby Jean - has left town. Many assumed that Bobby Jean was a girl, which changes the storyline considerably. This interpretation plays out in the 1995 Nick Hornby book High Fidelity, where the main character, a record store clerk, says: "There's this Springsteen song, 'Bobby Jean,' off Born In The U.S.A. About a girl who's left town years before and he's pissed off because he didn't know about it, and he wanted to say goodbye, tell her that he missed her, and wish her good luck. Well, I'd like my life to be like a Springsteen song. Just once."

    The book was adapted into a movie in 2000, starring John Cusack. Springsteen appears in the film in a dream sequence; this was his first time acting in a movie. In this scene, he closes by telling Cusack, "Good luck, goodbye," echoing the last line of this song. The song itself is not named in the film though.

Comments: 27

  • Michelle T. from New YorkI am a little stumped, my daughter was born in late 1983 and I named her Bobbie after a song, which I heard on a recording a friend made of something similar he had made during a concert, I'd swear it was Springsteen, although I wasn't familiar with the artist at the time.... perhaps he wrote it in 1981-ish and never recorded it, but changed the wording in 1984 after Steven left the band? Because when I bought the Born in the USA album and heard it, it was so much like that previous song...
  • Mark from Great Falls, Mt.When I found out this was about Little Steven, I had to go back and really listen to the words. When it talks about like the same music and like the same songs and liked the same "clothes" I was hoping it was about Little Steven.
  • Jane from Villach, AustriaI saw a documentary recently about songs written for certain girls/women where an ex-girlfriend of Bruce's stated that this song was about their breakup.
  • Blain from Raleigh, Ncgood example of Bruce's maturity as a songwriter- while definitely written about Little Steven. The inspiration evolved into different lyrics, but the sentiment remained the same.
  • Joe from Chicago, IlClarences solo at the end really makes the song that much better, really gets to me.. very good song
  • Brian from Boston, MaWhy does he use the name Bobby Jean if the song is about Steven Van Zandt? it realy doesn't make much sense.Why doesn't he say freind of mine or something.Of course people are going to think this is about a girl.
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaThis is a song about Little Steven when he first left the E Street Band, he eventually came back(THANK GOD!). This song is one of my favorites, it just gets to me all the times I hear it...
  • Mike from Bristol, CtI heard this song for years and liked it alot. One day, soon after my older sister with whom I had a very close relationship committed suicide, I was listening to my old friend Bruce for some much needed comfort and this song came on. It resonated with me like no other time before and has reminded me of her in a 'not so painful' way ever since. I will be eternally grateful to him for helping me deal with the most painful loss of my life.
  • Gerard from Ronkonkoma, NyOne of my favorites. I remember getting this album (on cassette) on my 18th birthday in 1984. I've heard this is about little Stevie, as well, but part of what makes a song great is how you interpet them.I can think of a few people in my life that I think of when I hear this song. A best friend, a girlfriend, a brother, etc. This song is and always will be one of my favorites.
  • Chris from Newcastle Upon Tyne, United KingdomOh man, I've just discovered this song, and I thought it was a love song to a girl he once knew, this has ruined it for me, well to me it's a love song, bite me.
  • Mark from Ruapehu, New Zealandi love this song. The best on BITUSA album
  • Malicious Matt from Squatney, -I guess its about Steve splitting to do his own thing. A real cool song. The cool thing about Springsteen's songs is that its not hard to see yourself and the people you know in those songs too...
  • Tom from Hershey, PaFor me, a top 5 Boss song, very intense on the emotional aspect. Reminds me of the special friends who faded in and out of your life. Those with special bonds and memories, and when you hear a song, it just brings a smile to your face. A happy thought tempered with a slight bit of longing for days of old....
  • Kevin from Memphis , TnThis was also uesd on the CBS TV show "Cold Case".
  • Tyler from HamiltonBobby Jean is most definately Little Steven. It is a farewell song " Good luck, good bye, Bobby Jean"
  • Amy from Pittsburgh, PaThe song feels a little bizarre if Bobby Jean is a man. I always thought of Bobby Jean as a girl and that there's some specific but unstated reason why she's leaving town. That's why I like the it, it's ambiguous and that makes it intriguing. The other thing that I think is hinted at in this song is regret. I always imagined that Bobby Jean was a close female friend that the narrator always imagined he would end up with and he's shocked and sorry that she's gone because if he had known he would have made a move. Once again, that doesn't work if the title character is a man.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiI'd also add that the departure of Van Zandt brought Nils Lofgren aboard the E Street Band and added a lot to the live shows. Nils is a very very good guitar player. Much better than Van Zandt.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiThis song was selected over "Boys Under the Bridge," for inclusion on "Born in the USA" Both songs conveyed the same message in a fairly similar tune. "Boys Under the Bridge" was later released on Tracks. Why people continue to want to pin down song writers I just don't understand. Maybe you start with a feeling of missing a certain someone but then the "Muse" takes over and the song takes life. This ambiguity allows for everyone to draw meaning from a song not just the writer. Damn It!
  • Dave from Redditch Worcs, EnglandI love this song,i remember always listening to it in the car (must be 20 years ago).Those were the days !!.
  • Thomas from Faaborg, Denmarkbut it doesn't mean that it isn't a farewellsong to a friend, but a female-friend
  • Thomas from Faaborg, Denmarkit is NOT a farewellsong, in the last sentence he sings "just to say I miss you, baby". I don't know where you got that crap from, but I don't think is is so
  • Alexander from Aguascalientes, MexicoScott, what you say is true. It is, at least, the way I lived it.
  • Bobby from Valley S Tream, NyJust a great song
  • Kyle from Belleville, CanadaGood song about saying goodbye too old friends.
  • Scott from St. Louis, MoI always thought of this as sort of a sequel to Backstreets. This is him saying goodbye to the girl years later after she's left town. Just my take.
  • Matt from Durham, NhSuperb, underrated song. Funny, but I always thought of Bobby Jean as a girl. It never occured to me that it was Little Steven, but it makes sense.
  • Larry from Aurora, KyOne of his best in my humble opinion.
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