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I'm getting patchy internet provision so I haven't been able to participate - and might get cut short again.

The discussion has ranged far and wide but I read about the history of the song (thanks to the provider of the link) and it really hasn't helped me to understand Why on earth Bruce opted to work up and release a song with these lyrics now, in 2020? 

I can see he's had a long history with the song, and somehow it has hooked his imagination and he's returned to it again and again over the years, but I cannot fathom Why a man known for taking verses and swapping them around didn't rework this instead of retaining questionable lyrics and releasing it now.

My sympathies are with the E Street Band, frankly, for having to provide the glitter to polish this thing. 

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Great thread this and interesting discussions. Janey is probably my favourite song from the album together with Song for Orphans. It is the reason why I always go back to storyteller Bruce - especiall

https://www.npr.org/2020/10/22/925358745/what-bruce-springsteen-lost-and-found   Why did you record in the way that you did? In the studio where you're sitting now, I gather? We have th

People are being very over the top about a bloody song. Chill out 

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Define "questionable lyrics"

The track "Paradise" off The Rising? "Darlington County"?

This song might not be set in 1970 but rather 1870.

It might derive inspiration from a B-movie western like "The Shooting"

Actually this would make sense as "Jack" Nicholson plays a character who is by the side of the chief protagonist in the film. Thus totally inverting any sense folks might have that this exemplifies "toxic masculinity"

It might even be an allegory as "Janey" (like Bruce in the sixties) is having to choose between a career as a Nun, a Nurse or a Lawyer but wants to front a band

The song might simply be another version of "Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own" with a bit of "Outlaw Pete" mixed in.

It is an amazing song whatever it is about and is both cinematic and lived world experience

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I don’t see the questionable lyrics either. Just Springsteen telling a pretty wild story. I’m listening to it right now and I love it. Alas, I’m not able to see the opening of the song about the doctor as some sort of an ode to gynecology. I don’t think 22 year old Springsteen was thinking about finger probing in a medical sense, but who knows?

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Magnus said:

The Way is a song about obsession, infatuation. This could certainly be romantic if the object of his desire feels just the same way about him, but what if this is a one sided relationship where she's doing all the lifting and supporting and he's the one who is coming on a little too strong? 

As for Fire, well that's what a lot of men might like to think. But the song, when sung by Bruce at least, is from a man's perspective, not the woman's. And yes, when it comes to dating in the real world, sometimes a No is in fact a delaying tactic. But if someone says No, you can't assume that they really mean Yes. If you're dropping your date off at their house and they say they want to be alone, then you say goodbye at the door. Fire is totally a rapey song, at least by modern standards of consent.

It's also a really really great song. And the best part is the silence - that drawn out pause, when he teases the audience.

Rock n Roll is complicated.

Well, I've been a teenage girl, Magnus, and I suspect that you haven't.  ;)
(Although these days, who can be sure?) :D
I can never agree that 'Fire' is a "rapey song" because it depicts a specific situation where the girl IS willing but holding back, and it's absolutely explicit that desire is mutual.  There's no suggestion at all that the narrator is going to force her.  He knows that he won't have to - she won't be saying No for much longer.  But there's no harm in trying to persuade her, and that's seduction.  It's sad that seduction is always regarded as rape nowadays. 

And 'The Way' - there's plenty in there to suggest that's it's not one-sided but obviously people can read into it whatever they like. 

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Here's an analysis of the lyrics, to answer the challenge over "questionable lyrics'.

'Questionable Lyrics' means lyrics that raise questions as well as dubious lyrics!
Verse 1
Sadly, a male doctor "who tears apart (Janey's) insides" is not uncommon, and a fair few get struck off each year for such inappropriate behaviour toward female patients, behaviour that includes unnecessary internal exams and operations. The song doesn't explore the impact of this on Janey other than to suggest that the doctor's cold hands and age make "Janey (turn) him down like dope". No routine medical exam corresponds to "tears apart her insides". None. 

As some have already sought possible backgrounds for the setting and events in the song, perhaps Janey had a termination ("tears apart her insides") which was performed illegally (maybe she's "small" because she's underage) and the doctor is looking for a 'quid pro quo' to keep quiet, but she rebuffs him? 
A plausible enough scenario to derive from this verse, and one that could be set in any age in the USA, which would also
explain her need for "confession at anytime" and provide a reason for the cop checking up on her and her being frightened by this.

Setting this aside, what can we make of the doctor's bedside manner and professionalism based on this verse alone? 

Moving on to Verse 2.
The priest can't take up Janey's offer of herself, but it doesn't say he doesn't want to do so: "But he's been frozen so
long on the outside". That is, he would if he could. This begs all kinds of questions. Has the priest strictly kept to his vow
of chastity? What "consolation" is he providing "at anytime" that makes Janey approach him "With her doors open wide" so that "she begs come inside" of him? The onus is on the priest to keep matters spiritual, what with him being an authority figure in the community. How well is he discharging his responsibility? 

Verse 3
The cop "who lives around the block And checks on her every night". He could be doing his job or he could be obsessed with Janey - why does he choose to "(check) on her every night"? Is this a euphemism? Why does Janey "turn pale" when she hears the siren? Why does the lyric explicitly state "Janey's small and sometimes he scared her"? Again, is Janey small because she's underage? Is the cop possessive of Janey? How professional is the cop's attitude to Janey?

Choruses
Who is the "shooter like me", and how is he involved in Janey's life? Is "shooter" another euphemism, for a man who can perform (unlike the doctor and the priest)? Is this "shooter" concerned about Janey out of altruism? How has he determined Janey's "style" and what is her "style"? How does he know what Janey's experienced with the doctor, priest and cop? Is he, as has been suggested, a stalker? Why does he say "she was more a saint
than a ghost"? Perhaps he thinks she's suffered like a saint or is more sinned against than sinning? Is "ghost" used as a
description due to her pallor or due to her small, insubstantial physical presence or is she quiet like a ghost? 

From the verses Janey interacts with 3 men in positions of authority and power whose interactions with her are not
conducive to her physical ("tears apart"), emotional ("he holds from what Janey he hides") and mental ("pale", "scared her") well-being. Her involvement with each is unhealthy and unbalanced. The mystery "shooter" man, telling her that she
needs a man like him, is possibly not going to break Janey's run of bad options!
 
Certainly the one person who doesn't tell us anything about Janey is Janey herself in this lyric. Although the lyric states
"Janey's got" in relation to each of the 3 male authority figures, in what way has she "got" them and in what way has
each "got" her?

Perhaps this will help to clarify why these lyrics are distasteful to me. I wonder how many women would find them so compared to men?
 

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1 hour ago, JoleBlonAlba said:

 No routine medical exam corresponds to "tears apart her insides". None. 

Not literally, but I've personally been subjected to some pretty uncomfortable procedures.  Just a routine smear test can be quite painful, and the worst one I ever had was at the hands of a female nurse.

I would certainly take that line as an exaggeration, and yes, it's extremely distasteful.

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1 hour ago, JoleBlonAlba said:

Here's an analysis of the lyrics, to answer the challenge over "questionable lyrics'.

'Questionable Lyrics' means lyrics that raise questions as well as dubious lyrics!
Verse 1
Sadly, a male doctor "who tears apart (Janey's) insides" is not uncommon, and a fair few get struck off each year for such inappropriate behaviour toward female patients, behaviour that includes unnecessary internal exams and operations. The song doesn't explore the impact of this on Janey other than to suggest that the doctor's cold hands and age make "Janey (turn) him down like dope". No routine medical exam corresponds to "tears apart her insides". None. 

As some have already sought possible backgrounds for the setting and events in the song, perhaps Janey had a termination ("tears apart her insides") which was performed illegally (maybe she's "small" because she's underage) and the doctor is looking for a 'quid pro quo' to keep quiet, but she rebuffs him? 
A plausible enough scenario to derive from this verse, and one that could be set in any age in the USA, which would also
explain her need for "confession at anytime" and provide a reason for the cop checking up on her and her being frightened by this.

Setting this aside, what can we make of the doctor's bedside manner and professionalism based on this verse alone? 

Moving on to Verse 2.
The priest can't take up Janey's offer of herself, but it doesn't say he doesn't want to do so: "But he's been frozen so
long on the outside". That is, he would if he could. This begs all kinds of questions. Has the priest strictly kept to his vow
of chastity? What "consolation" is he providing "at anytime" that makes Janey approach him "With her doors open wide" so that "she begs come inside" of him? The onus is on the priest to keep matters spiritual, what with him being an authority figure in the community. How well is he discharging his responsibility? 

Verse 3
The cop "who lives around the block And checks on her every night". He could be doing his job or he could be obsessed with Janey - why does he choose to "(check) on her every night"? Is this a euphemism? Why does Janey "turn pale" when she hears the siren? Why does the lyric explicitly state "Janey's small and sometimes he scared her"? Again, is Janey small because she's underage? Is the cop possessive of Janey? How professional is the cop's attitude to Janey?

Choruses
Who is the "shooter like me", and how is he involved in Janey's life? Is "shooter" another euphemism, for a man who can perform (unlike the doctor and the priest)? Is this "shooter" concerned about Janey out of altruism? How has he determined Janey's "style" and what is her "style"? How does he know what Janey's experienced with the doctor, priest and cop? Is he, as has been suggested, a stalker? Why does he say "she was more a saint
than a ghost"? Perhaps he thinks she's suffered like a saint or is more sinned against than sinning? Is "ghost" used as a
description due to her pallor or due to her small, insubstantial physical presence or is she quiet like a ghost? 

From the verses Janey interacts with 3 men in positions of authority and power whose interactions with her are not
conducive to her physical ("tears apart"), emotional ("he holds from what Janey he hides") and mental ("pale", "scared her") well-being. Her involvement with each is unhealthy and unbalanced. The mystery "shooter" man, telling her that she
needs a man like him, is possibly not going to break Janey's run of bad options!
 
Certainly the one person who doesn't tell us anything about Janey is Janey herself in this lyric. Although the lyric states
"Janey's got" in relation to each of the 3 male authority figures, in what way has she "got" them and in what way has
each "got" her?

Perhaps this will help to clarify why these lyrics are distasteful to me. I wonder how many women would find them so compared to men?
 

Great analysis ....Icky still seems appropriate.

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To me the lyrics are a jab at toxic masculinity, but more precisely when "good" intentions turn obsessive, as the irony is that as the song progresses, the toxic male narrator becomes more the one Janey needs protection from. The whole point of the song is that it is up to Janey what she "needs." The narrator is so caught up in his ego and being the "savior," saving Janey from all the other toxic men, that he doesn't see that he's becoming the very thing he wants to protect her from. Never once actually asking her.

It reads as a more soaring, self-aware version of "Candy's Room" and "Talk to Me."

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On 10/26/2020 at 8:17 PM, Magnus said:

I also love The Way, The Iceman, and plenty of other '70s era Bruce songs that are peopled by troubled men who are doubtlessly doing a lot of damage to the people around them. 

I'm with Magnus as I love the two songs he mentions plus others where murder is committed e.g. Johnny 99 as well as Janey.  His writing includes many people who do bad deeds.

No one on this topic (I think) who objects to Janey has mentioned Working On The Highway/Child Bride.  Now that protagonist is seriously bad yet no-one is citing Bruce's bad taste there; after all it is a fictional viewpoint.    

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Im wondering if a younger Bruce was inspired by watching what ever the equivalent of General hospital was back in the day

Sounds like a daytime soap oprah to me :lol:

I thought tearing insides apart was just an emotional love affair kind of thing 

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29 minutes ago, Daisey Jeep said:

Im wondering if a younger Bruce was inspired by watching what ever the equivalent of General hospital was back in the day

Sounds like a daytime soap oprah to me :lol:

I thought tearing insides apart was just an emotional love affair kind of thing 

Well sure .... Tearing insides apart could very well be a metaphor ...but Bruce making it the doctor who is doing the tearing makes it deliciously ambiguous.

Honestly if i didnt love the music so much i'd just move on ....But i cant stop listening !!!

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5 minutes ago, Early North Jersey said:

Well sure .... Tearing insides apart could very well be a metaphor ...but Bruce making it the doctor who is doing the tearing makes it deliciously ambiguous.

Honestly if i didnt love the music so much i'd just move on ....But i cant stop listening !!!

 

Vhchicken.jpg

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On 10/26/2020 at 10:07 AM, stillilllife said:

Source? :)

https://www.npr.org/2020/10/22/925358745/what-bruce-springsteen-lost-and-found

 

Why did you record in the way that you did? In the studio where you're sitting now, I gather?

We have this lovely studio at home now that Patti, my wife, built and designed with some help. I've recorded several albums here — Western Stars and Wrecking Ball and a few other records.

I had cut a song on the record called "Janey Needs a Shooter" earlier on, for a one-off for Record Store Day. But when I listened back to it, it was the closest thing the band had ever sounded to Darkness On The Edge of Town. You know, that was because we all played together and sang at one time, and because we relied only on the instrumentation of the band and no overdubs. So I said, well, I'd be interested in making a record where we return to the template of Darkness On The Edge of Town. And so, consequently, I made no demos of the songs. I simply recorded them on my acoustic guitar into my iPhone, waited until the band got here, played in the songs on an acoustic guitar and then we went and performed the music.

We hadn't recorded a full album like that ever in our lives. We've recorded certain songs like that, but never a complete album where all the vocals and everything were live, and where we relied simply on the playing instrumentation in the band as the song went by.

 

 

 

 

Thats Bruce's words to NPR. Which leads me to believe that this song was NOT cut last November, as Bruce himself says, "earlier on, for a one off for Record Store Day"  He certainly is NOT talking about the version from the 70"s, as Record Store Day didnt exist. 

With Janey not being on the Apple Documentary, I fully believe that they did NOT re record it last November, and this is the cut that was going to be used for Tracks 2. 

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6 hours ago, StolenCar66 said:

https://www.npr.org/2020/10/22/925358745/what-bruce-springsteen-lost-and-found

 

Why did you record in the way that you did? In the studio where you're sitting now, I gather?

We have this lovely studio at home now that Patti, my wife, built and designed with some help. I've recorded several albums here — Western Stars and Wrecking Ball and a few other records.

I had cut a song on the record called "Janey Needs a Shooter" earlier on, for a one-off for Record Store Day. But when I listened back to it, it was the closest thing the band had ever sounded to Darkness On The Edge of Town. You know, that was because we all played together and sang at one time, and because we relied only on the instrumentation of the band and no overdubs. So I said, well, I'd be interested in making a record where we return to the template of Darkness On The Edge of Town. And so, consequently, I made no demos of the songs. I simply recorded them on my acoustic guitar into my iPhone, waited until the band got here, played in the songs on an acoustic guitar and then we went and performed the music.

We hadn't recorded a full album like that ever in our lives. We've recorded certain songs like that, but never a complete album where all the vocals and everything were live, and where we relied simply on the playing instrumentation in the band as the song went by.

 

 

 

 

Thats Bruce's words to NPR. Which leads me to believe that this song was NOT cut last November, as Bruce himself says, "earlier on, for a one off for Record Store Day"  He certainly is NOT talking about the version from the 70"s, as Record Store Day didnt exist. 

With Janey not being on the Apple Documentary, I fully believe that they did NOT re record it last November, and this is the cut that was going to be used for Tracks 2. 

That makes sense. Thank you 

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To me those lyrics seem clever and may be interpreted many ways. That's the beauty of the many great lyrics. Bruce often leaves space for interpretation which is something I like. 

Just lucky to have to Bruce and other old artists and young artists with old souls that write lyrics for real so we don't have live with only all the 'WAP' kind of lyrics that are everywhere nowadays. 

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16 hours ago, StolenCar66 said:

https://www.npr.org/2020/10/22/925358745/what-bruce-springsteen-lost-and-found

 

Why did you record in the way that you did? In the studio where you're sitting now, I gather?

We have this lovely studio at home now that Patti, my wife, built and designed with some help. I've recorded several albums here — Western Stars and Wrecking Ball and a few other records.

I had cut a song on the record called "Janey Needs a Shooter" earlier on, for a one-off for Record Store Day. But when I listened back to it, it was the closest thing the band had ever sounded to Darkness On The Edge of Town. You know, that was because we all played together and sang at one time, and because we relied only on the instrumentation of the band and no overdubs. So I said, well, I'd be interested in making a record where we return to the template of Darkness On The Edge of Town. And so, consequently, I made no demos of the songs. I simply recorded them on my acoustic guitar into my iPhone, waited until the band got here, played in the songs on an acoustic guitar and then we went and performed the music.

We hadn't recorded a full album like that ever in our lives. We've recorded certain songs like that, but never a complete album where all the vocals and everything were live, and where we relied simply on the playing instrumentation in the band as the song went by.

 

 

Well, this is an extremely interesting piece of information, especially because the Letter to You  version of Janey needs a shooter has the same sound and vocals of the rest of the album. It must have been recorded not long before the rest of the album. I mean, it can hardly be a left-over from The Promise or The Ties that bind outtakes reworking.

I would have thought Janey needs a shooter was a last addition, meant to balance the overall old vs. new material ratio. It appears it was there from the very start (or even before), instead. Quite revealing. Also, as you said, this might indicate that a Tracks II release might really be just around the corner, if a "teaser" was considered for record store day.  

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1 hour ago, Frank said:

Well, this is an extremely interesting piece of information, especially because the Letter to You  version of Janey needs a shooter has the same sound and vocals of the rest of the album. It must have been recorded not long before the rest of the album. I mean, it can hardly be a left-over from The Promise or The Ties that bind outtakes reworking.

I would have thought Janey needs a shooter was a last addition, meant to balance the overall old vs. new material ratio. It appears it was there from the very start (or even before), instead. Quite revealing. Also, as you said, this might indicate that a Tracks II release might really be just around the corner, if a "teaser" was considered for record store day.  

He has made quite a few passing comments about tracks 2 coming out at some point, hmmm.

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12 minutes ago, zzcoolness said:

He has made quite a few passing comments about tracks 2 coming out at some point, hmmm.

Indeed, he did. But the difference here is that something from it was actually “scheduled” for release. It’s not the generic, ‘I was working on a follow up to the Tracks box set, when I came across this and that’, that we’ve been hearing since 2005.

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19 minutes ago, NorthSideJimmy said:

Jesus. The Lake has become snowflaky. Worrying about possibly non PC lyrics written 50 years ago.

Rip up all Shakespeare  plays. A bit anti-semititic some of them

That’s funny. If we are only going to listen to politically correct lyrics I guess I’ll head over to the Raffi board. Then again, what are the people on the bus going and down actually up to?

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It's not about politically correct lyrics or being a 'snowflake'.  Putting it simply, it's about the wisdom of using 50-year old lyrics on what is called "Letter To You", and not being cognisant of the fact that they are a slap in the face to some of the purchasers of that album.

I'm happy for everyone who doesn't have historical reasons for finding such material extremely disturbing and distasteful. Long may you continue to enjoy such peace of mind. Not all of us have been so blessed.

As for Shakespeare, his 'Merchant of Venice' was a shrewd examination of anti-Semitism, showing the ugly side of what purported to be a Christian society where minority people and their beliefs met with bias, arrogance and cruelty, and it famously gifted us a very wise speech: 

"If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"

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