Cadillac Ranch (Bruce Springsteen song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Cadillac Ranch"
Bruce springsteen-cadillac ranch france.jpg
French cover
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album The River
B-side "Wreck on the Highway" (UK)
"Be True" (France)
Released 1981
Format 7" single
Recorded April–June 1980
Genre Rock, rockabilly
Length 3:03
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau
UK cover
UK cover

"Cadillac Ranch" is a song written by Bruce Springsteen that was first released on Springsteen's 1980 album The River. In 1981 it was released as a single in Europe, backed by "Be True" in France and by "Wreck on the Highway" in the UK.[1] Although it was not released as a single in the US, it did reach #48 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.[2] A favorite in concert, a live version was included on Live/1975–85.[3][4] A version was also included on the documentary film Blood Brothers.[5]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"Cadillac Ranch" is an exuberant, playful rocker with rockabilly influences.[6][7][8][9] According to music critic Dave Marsh, it "made dinosaurs dance."[10] It is highlighted by Clarence Clemons' saxophone solo.[4] Author June Skinner Sawyers called the song "pure rowdy fun" and listed it as one of Springsteen's ten funniest songs.[11] John Cruz of Sputnik Music called the song "just plain fun," noting its infectious beat.[12] However, the theme of the song is "the transitoriness of all existence" and the inevitability of death.[7][12][13] Marsh called the song "one of the smartest songs ever about the inevitability of death".[13] Marsh further noted that although the protagonist of "Cadillac Ranch" seems similar to the protagonists of earlier Springsteen records, in this song he appears naive and vulnerable rather than bold and innocent.[8]

The song's title comes from Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.[4][7] Cadillac Ranch is a sculpture showing ten Cadillac automobiles with their hoods buried in the ground.[4] Springsteen used Cadillac Ranch as a metaphor for his theme; that these once elite cars are now expendable.[7]

Among the real life people namechecked in the song are Burt Reynolds, Junior Johnson and the deceased James Dean.[4][7][14] However, in concert Springsteen can be flexible with the names used. For example, in 1985 concerts in Australia, Reynolds was replaced by the fictional Mad Max.[10]


"Cadillac Ranch" has been covered by Rick Trevino and Status Quo.[15] Status Quo's version was an outtake from album Back to Back, and initially released on the 1999 album Back to the Beginning.[16] Rick Trevino's version appears on the compilation albums NASCAR: Runnin' Wide Open (1995)[17] and Highway Fever: All Time Greatest Country Road Songs (2006).[18][19]

Warren Zevon covered "Cadillac Ranch" during his 1982 tour and the song was featured in an MTV broadcast from the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey on October 1, 1982.[20] Nitty Gritty Dirt Band covered the song on their 1984 album Plain Dirt Fashion as well as the 1991 live album Live Two Five.[21][22]

In 1986, Savoy Records (in the UK), released a 12" single, by Lord Horror, which was a cover of Blue Monday (by New Order), but with its lyrics replaced by the lyrics to "Cadillac Ranch" instead. The single didn't chart though, mainly because it wasn't stocked in many record shops, due to its controversial artwork.[23] The track is also available on a Savoy Records compilation album, Savoy Wars, which was released in 1994.

Daniel Johnston's song "Funeral Home" takes its melody from "Cadillac Ranch."[24]


  1. ^ "Bruce Springsteen: Cadillac Ranch". Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  2. ^ "Bruce Springsteen Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  3. ^ Ruhlmann, W. "Live/1975–85". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  4. ^ a b c d e Humphries, P. (1996). The Complete Guide to the Music of Bruce Springsteen. Omnibus Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-7119-5304-X.
  5. ^ Seibert, P. "Blood Brothers". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  6. ^ Kirkpatrick, R. (2007). The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen. Praeger. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0-275-98938-0.
  7. ^ a b c d e Symynkywicz, J.B. (2008). The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-664-23169-9.
  8. ^ a b Marsh, D. (1981). Born to Run. Dell. pp. 255–256. ISBN 0-440-10694-X.
  9. ^ Marsh, D. (2004). Bruce Springsteen: two hearts : the definitive biography, 1972-2003. Psychology Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-415-96928-4.
  10. ^ a b Marsh, D. (1996). Glory Days. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 85, 277. ISBN 1-56025-101-8.
  11. ^ Sawyers, J.S. (2006). Tougher Than the Rest. Omnibus Press. pp. 248, 256. ISBN 0825634709.
  12. ^ a b Cruz, J. "Bruce Springsteen: The River". Sputnik Music. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  13. ^ a b Marsh, D. (2006). Bruce Springsteen on tour, 1968-2005. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-59691-282-3.
  14. ^ Springsteen, B. "Cadillac Ranch". Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  15. ^ "Bruce Springsteen: All songs composed by". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  16. ^ "Cadillac Ranch (from the album Back to Back)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  17. ^ "Nascar: Runnin Wide Open". Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  18. ^ "Highway Fever: All-Time Greatest Country Road Songs". Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Cadillac Ranch: Rick Trevino". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  20. ^ "Warren Zevon - Live in Passaic NJ, 1982 (The Full Concert)". Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  21. ^ Worbois, J. "Plain Dirt Fashion". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  22. ^ Fink, M. "Live Two Five". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  23. ^ "Savoy Records: Blue Monday". Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  24. ^ "`Devil's' details make musician documentary a worthy DVD". Retrieved 22 April 2018.

External links[edit]