My Father's House


  • This was the last song Springsteen finished for Nebraska, an album that became solo Springsteen when he felt adding the band detracted from the feel of the songs.
  • Springsteen wrote this based on childhood memories of his family, and his distant relationship with his father. Other songs where Springsteen alludes to his father include "Factory," "Independence Day," and "Adam Raised A Cain."
  • At a concert in Los Angeles in 1990, Springsteen introduced the song with this story:

    "I had this habit for a long time: I used to get in my car and drive back through my old neighborhood in the town I grew up in. I'd always drive past the old houses that I used to live in, sometimes late at night. I got so I would do it really regularly - two, three, four times a week for years. I eventually got to wondering, 'What the hell am I doing?'

    So, I went to see the psychiatrist. I said, 'Doc, for years I've been getting in my car and driving past my old houses late at night. What am I doing?'

    He said, 'I want you to tell me what you think you're doing.'

    I go, 'That's what I'm paying you for.'

    He said, 'Well, something bad happened and you're going back thinking you can make it right again. Something went wrong and you keep going back to see if you can fix it or somehow make it right.'

    I sat there, and I said, 'That is what I'm doing.'

    He said, 'Well, you can't.'"

Comments: 5

  • Martin from Chichester, United Kingdom'the line 'devil snapping at my heels' also used in wages of sin avaliable on tracks... bit like 'french kisses' line from shes the one used on santa ana, this also on tracks basically get tracks its amazing... lots of classics that never saw light of day till now
  • Tim from Denver, CoI hadn't talked to my father for about five years when I heard this song. Its lyrics were so powerful (especially the end where he goes to his father's house and is told "I'm sorry, son, but no one by that name lives here anymore"), that I actually called my dad ans patched up the relationship. We now get along better than ever.
  • Liz from San Mateo, CaI should add the npr show was called Dreamhouse and it was all about memories of houses we grew up in.
  • Liz from San Mateo, CaI heard a version of this on This American Life on NPR that I want to find. It was an old country version with great guitar. The web side for TAF won't tell me, they say that have too many request of this kind. Could you help me find the artist?
  • Larry from Bakersfield, CaThis may have something to do with his relation to his father, but it clearly also deals with the agony of losing one's faith. Note the biblical references "my father's house" and "our sins lie unatoned."
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Joe Ely

Joe ElySongwriter Interviews

The renown Texas songwriter has been at it for 40 years, with tales to tell about The Flatlanders and The Clash - that's Joe's Tex-Mex on "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

Graduation Songs

Graduation SongsFact or Fiction

Have you got the smarts to know which of these graduation song stories are real?

Arrested For Your Art - The Story Of 2 Live Crew's "Obscene" Album

Arrested For Your Art - The Story Of 2 Live Crew's "Obscene" AlbumSong Writing

In the summer of 1990, you could get arrested for selling a 2 Live Crew album or performing their songs in Southern Florida. And that's exactly what happened.

Cy Curnin of The Fixx

Cy Curnin of The FixxSongwriter Interviews

The man who brought us "Red Skies" and "Saved By Zero" is now an organic farmer in France.

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New York

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New YorkSong Writing

Our chat with Barney Hoskyns, who covers the wild years of Woodstock - the town, not the festival - in his book Small Town Talk.

Stan Ridgway

Stan RidgwaySongwriter Interviews

Go beyond the Wall of Voodoo with this cinematic songwriter.