My Father's House

Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • 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

Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins

Tom Bailey of Thompson TwinsSongwriter Interviews

Tom stopped performing Thompson Twins songs in 1987, in part because of their personal nature: "Hold Me Now" came after an argument with his bandmate/girlfriend Alannah Currie.

Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde

Johnette Napolitano of Concrete BlondeSongwriter Interviews

The singer/bassist for Concrete Blonde talks about how her songs come from clairvoyance, and takes us through the making of their hit "Joey."

Gentle Giant

Gentle GiantSongwriter Interviews

If counterpoint and polyrhythms are your thing, you might love these guys. Even by Progressive Rock standards, they were one of the most intricate bands of the '70s. Then their lead singer gave us Bon Jovi.

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star RidersSongwriter Interviews

Writing with Phil Lynott, Scott saw their ill-fated frontman move to a darker place in his life and lyrics.

Michael Franti

Michael FrantiSongwriter Interviews

Franti tells the story behind his hit "Say Hey (I Love You)" and explains why yoga is an integral part of his lifestyle and his Soulshine tour.

Incongruent Opening Acts

Incongruent Opening ActsSong Writing

Here's what happens when an opening act is really out of place with the headliner, like when Beastie Boys opened for Madonna.