Live 20 Feb 2003 version
[Spoken:] Doing this one for Bob! Oh baby.
I stood stone-like at midnight suspended in my masquerade
I combed my hair till it was just right and commanded the night brigade
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strode all alone into a fallout zone, and came out with my soul untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, when they said "sit down" I stood up
Ooooh, growin' up
Yeah, the flag of piracy flew from my mast, my sails were set wing to wing
I had a jukebox graduate for a first mate, she couldn't sail but she sure could sing
I pushed B-52 and bombed 'em with the blues, yeah with my gear set stubborn on standing
I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school, yeah, never once gave thought to landing
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, when they said "come down" I threw up
Yeah, yeah, growin' up
I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere, yeah and you know it's really hard to hold your breath
Swear I lost everything I ever loved or feared, I was the cosmic kid in full costume dress
Well my feet they finally took root in the earth but I got me a nice little place in the stars
Yeah, I swear I found the key to the universe, yeah in the engine of an old parked car
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, when they say "sit down" I stood up
Hmmm, growin' up
Yeah-eah, growin' up
[Spoken line-by-line explanation:]
Thanks. It's funny, uh, this song, those were the songs that, uh, that I wrote when I had no audience, I had nothing to lose, and it sounds like it, you know, maybe I... Those songs, they were funny, they were always songs I thought would, would really date, and I, I end up going back to them just for the pure, uh, the, the joy that's in 'em, you know, and the happiness that's in 'em. And uh, I was sitting in my little apartment over in A-Asbury Park and I said, well gee, I don't have the band, it's just me and the guitar. And, uh, I knew I was gonna have to go and, and, and uh, come up with something that was like, had to be noticed in some fashion, so I started just slinging the words around, you know? And, you can listen to it and say, what, what conceivably are those songs about, you know? I mean, what were you thinking? What is going through your mind? So, uh, I'll take you through it line-by-line a little bit, and uh, uh, and, and I'll give you a little idea kinda, uh, how it all played out for me. I'll do it for this song, this is, uh, this is, so,
I stood stone-like at midnight, suspended, uh, in my masquerade -- of course, right? So, so it's easy then.
I combed my hair till it looked just right -- well, hair, now that was important, make it last. And, uh, and by then, you've hopefully figured out the other stuff.
Um, combed my hair till it was just right and, uh, commanded the night brigade -- that was just job description.
Uh, I was open to pain and crossed by the rain, walked on a crooked crutch -- that was, uh, crossed by the rain, which is lightning. Walked on a, uh, walked on a crooked crutch, well, I was broken, but I was still magic.
Strode all alone through a fallout zone, came out with my soul untouched -- that's hopefully.
Uh, flag of piracy flew from my mast -- I was the odd man out in my hometown.
Sails were set wing to wing -- I was just going for whatever I could get.
I, uh, had a jukebox graduate for a first mate, she couldn't sail but she sure could sing -- dreaming of her, and, uh, found her later. That's uh...
I pu-, uh, uh, uh, I pushed B-52 and bombed 'em with the blues -- destroy my enemies!
Uhh, bombed 'em with the blues with my gear set stubborn on standing -- that was uh, uh...
Broke all the rules -- very quietly, however.
Strafed my old high school -- that was, oh I wish!
Never once gave thought to landing -- I actually gave thought to landing a lot. An awful lot. Um... let me see, the next verse.
Um, took month-long vacations in the stratosphere -- I still have trouble with that one. That's one of those, you can ask the wife, sort of thing.
Uh, this is where I lost everything I ever loved or feared -- I didn't have a clue as to what I actually loved or feared.
Was, uh, cosmic kid in full costume dress -- job description.
Uh, but my feet they finally took root in the earth, got me a nice little place in the stars -- that was, it's funny, 'cause even back then, I was concerned with, with remaining rooted in some fashion, it still seemed important. And then the big line, the line that makes the song, that was,
I swear I found the key to the universe in the, uh, engine of an old parked car -- that was, uh, that was im... that was important, 'cause that's what I was trying to do, you know, I believed that yeah, you could... 'cause I found so much in, in culture that was considered to be transient and trash, you know, just throwaway culture, and yet, I felt that I heard a world of, of, of pain and pleasure and beauty, and, and uh, and darkness all coming out of those little records on the radio, and I knew that it was there. And uh, I wanted to find sort of my key to that, the idea is that it's there if you, it's there, it's there, it's even here, even in this, in this town, you know? If, uh, I guess if I say that's if I, if I look hard enough, you know?
Hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd -- well that was, I hid, that was something I did a lot. I did a lot of, uh, a lot of hiding, you know, in those days, and uh, and I guess all this other stuff that swirled around in the songs, kind of, you know, was hiding in here, and uh, uh, the clouded wrath of the crowd, you know, I guess I felt, I grew up feeling it was a hostile and pretty nasty world out there. And that I was broken, but that I was still magic, you know? And that's what, that's what you feel in this song, I think, that, there's, there's a, uh, the insistence on a certain sort of magical fantasy, almost. Which can be, at a certain moment, when you're young, can be pretty life-sustaining, you know? Um, that was, that was pretty much how I ran through this song for me, you know?
The above lyrics are for the live 20 Feb 2003 performance of GROWIN' UP at Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA, during the second of the two DoubleTake magazine benefit shows. The song was played solo on acoustic guitar and was followed by a line-by-line explanation.
Founded by Harvard psychiatrist Robert Coles, DoubleTake magazine has been in business since 1995, but started facing financial problems a few years later. Springsteen's relationship with the publication goes back to late 1997 when he was interviewed by Will Percy (nephew of the late Walker Percy, a writer/novelist Springsteen admired) at Springsteen's farmhouse in Rumson, NJ. Part of the audio-recorded interview was printed in the March 1998 issue of the magazine. The interview is probably one of the most philosophical of Springsteen's career -- it dealt with the effect books and movies have on Springsteen's writing and the culture of celebrity, among other things. Springsteen also became friend with magazine founder Robert Coles when the two met in 1998. He praised his book A Secular Mind, and even attended one of his classes in Harvard. In November 2004 Coles published in his book Bruce Springsteen's America - The People Listening, A Poet Singing.
Tickets for the two fundraisers were priced at $500 and billed as "An Intimate Evenings Of Music And Conversation With Bruce Springsteen". These were solo acoustic shows, played on acoustic guitar (or piano on a few songs), held at the small Somerville Theatre (900 seats capacity). Springsteen chatted between songs, and closed out each night with a Q&A session, taking questions from the audience. The unprecedented "conversation" element of the shows made them unique to Springsteen fans.
The almost one million dollars raised from the ticket sales went to the non-profit DoubleTake Community Service Organization Corporation, publishers of DoubleTake magazine, which owed $600,000 to vendors and contributors. "The concert was a success beyond our wildest dreams," managing editor Kirk Kicklighter commented, "[But] we never really had a plan for what we were going to do after the concert." By the fall of 2004, the magazine was no longer publishing, officially put on "hiatus".
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.
List of available versions of GROWIN' UP on this website:GROWIN' UP [Album version]