Downbound Train

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"Downbound Train"
Song by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Born in the U.S.A.
Released June 4, 1984
Recorded March - April 1982 at The Power Station in New York
Genre Heartland rock
Length 3:35
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt
Born in the U.S.A. track listing

"Downbound Train" is a song that appears on the 1984 Bruce Springsteen album Born in the U.S.A. The song is a lament to a lost spouse, and takes on a melancholy tone.[1][2] Author Christopher Sandford described the song as beginning "like a Keith Richards' riff" that ultimately moves to "one of those great country busted-heart lines, 'Now I work down at the car wash/where all it ever does is rain.'"[3]

The song was recorded in March or April 1982 at the Power Station in one of the first sessions for the Born in the U.S.A. album.[3][4] Like several other Born in the U.S.A. songs, including "Working on the Highway" and the title track, a solo acoustic version of "Downbound Train" was originally recorded on the demo that eventually became the Nebraska album.[1][5]

Though it was not one of the seven singles released from the album, the song nevertheless gained some album-oriented rock radio airplay and was featured fairly regularly on the Born in the U.S.A. Tour. It has been performed sporadically in tours since. Overall, the song has been played in concert about 130 times through 2008. Author Robert Kirkpatrick contended that "Downbound Train" "might be the best song on the album",[1] and Debby Bull called it "the saddest song [Springsteen]'s ever written."[1] But Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh, writing in Glory Days, did not agree, calling "Downbound Train" "the weakest song [Springsteen]'s released since the second album, ... incredibly sloppy ... The protagonist's three jobs in five verses are only symptomatic of its problems."[5][6] Other observers analysed it in retrospect as a harbinger, with naturalistic imagery lacing the song throughout in an approach that Springsteen would return to heavily in his Dylan-"Series of Dreams"-influenced early 1990s.


The Smithereens included a cover of "Downbound Train" on their compilation, "From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology", 2004 (Capitol Records).
Kurt Vile included a cover of "Downbound Train" on his EP, So Outta Reach.
Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska included a cover of "Downbound Train" by Raul Malo

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Kirkpatrick, R. (2007). The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 82, 97–98. ISBN 978-0-275-98938-5. 
  2. ^ Masur, L.P. (2010). Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen's American Vision. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-60819-101-7. 
  3. ^ a b Sandford, C. (1999). Springsteen: Point Blank. Da Capo Press. pp. 194, 226. ISBN 978-0-306-80921-7. 
  4. ^ "Brucebase, On The Tracks: Born In The USA". Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  5. ^ a b Marsh, D. (2004). Two Hearts. Psychology Press. pp. 341, 426. 
  6. ^ Marsh, D. (1996). Glory Days. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-101-8. 

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