Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: #71, “The Hitter”

The following is an excerpt from Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs, a new book available now from American Songwriter contributor Jim Beviglia. We’ll be offering a sampling of song entries — one out of each batch of 10 — over the next few weeks. Purchase the book here.

Anyone who thinks that Bruce Springsteen has mellowed somewhat as the years have passed would be hard-pressed to explain the severity and grit contained within 2005’s “The Hitter.” The song may not get the recognition of other songs because it’s featured on Devils and Dust, an unheralded album in Springsteen’s canon, but it demands your attention and commands your respect and fear when you hear it, much like the title character.

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Absolutely one of the utter best latter-day Springsteen songs, and just one of his best in general. This song is a masterclass in story-songwriting, it’s sublime.


It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry - Bob Dylan

Well, I wanna be your lover, baby

I don’t wanna be your boss

Don’t say I never warned you

When your train gets lost.



French Open dance battle between Gael Monfils and Laurent Lokoli

Yep, that’s Gael, again.

Laurent is great but that was not égalité Gael totally won.


Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35 - Bob Dylan

They’ll stone you and then say you are brave
They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

They don’t make double entendres this good anymore. This is Blonde on Blonde.


Love Minus Zero, No Limit - Bob Dylan

My love she speaks softly
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all

Inspired by Sara, the woman he would soon marry and have four children with, this is one of the most beautiful love songs in the vast history of love songs. 


Ballad Of A Thin Man - Bob Dylan

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

If ever there was a song to establish a menacing presence, this is the song. This is my favourite track off Highway 61 Revisited, mostly because I’ve imagined up so many insane movie scenes just by listening to it.

It might be the only Dylan song where the lyrics are not as important as the melody.

That booming piano lurks over your shoulder waiting to surprise you at your most vulnerable moment. It creates a tingling in your spine that something isn’t quite right, but you have no idea what.

It’s that moment in the movie right before the bad guy appears for the first time.

It is so dark, so layered, so strange. Even the way Dylan sings it is different from how he normally intonates in songs. 

It is perfection. 


Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses white supremacy and ‘The Case for Reparations’ with Bill Moyers

from The Atlantic cover story: 'The Case for Reparations'


Mad Men - E707 - Burt’s Song & Dance Number (by Dingus Flotbottom)

You’re welcome, tumblr.


Maggie’s Farm & Like A Rolling Stone Live at Newport Folk Festival 1965 - Bob Dylan

Yes, this is the infamous performance where Bob first went electric and was booed with great intensity by his loyal, folky fans. 

There’s something so very poetic about him playing this song in that moment - essentially the ultimate screw you to the audience for expecting him to be what they want him to be, instead of allowing him to be what he chooses to be. 

Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
They say sing while you slave and I just get bored
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

A song about rejecting the idea of being a slave to ‘the man’ whoever that man may be. All punk rock stems from this song. 

If you’ve ever had a terrible job - and I’ve had a few - there’s nothing better than “Maggie’s Farm” to motivate you to escape, or to scream along and dance to once you have finally escaped. It’s the most cathartic song on the planet.

No paycheck is worth selling your happiness for. 

My first terrible job as a teen was as a maid at a hotel in Niagara Falls. It was where I learned just how filthy human beings are capable of being in a very short time, when they know someone else is going to clean up after them. Especially if they have kids. It also showed me how cheap people are, because most of the time, no one tipped. 

On the glorious day that I finally quit, after seeing enough shit and vomit to make me loose my lunch, I drove down the highway blasting “Maggie’s Farm.”

That is what freedom feels like. 

"Maggie’s Farm" remains one of my top 5 Dylan songs. It taught me where my line is, and just how much bullshit I am willing to tolerate before standing up for myself. 


To Ramona - Bob Dylan

I have an intense attachment to this song, if only because I’ve often felt like Ramona. The first time I heard this song, it was like he was talking directly to me, shaking me awake for the first time. Every girl that has ever struggled to fit in has felt like the Ramona in this song. Every girl that’s ever felt like she had to change herself, “better” herself, is this Ramona.

Sometimes all it takes is a well written song to remind us that we are fine just the way we are. 

It grieves my heart, love
To see you tryin’ to be a part of
A world that just don’t exist
It’s all just a dream, babe
A vacuum, a scheme, babe
That sucks you into feelin’ like this

I can see that your head
Has been twisted and fed
By worthless foam from the mouth
You’ve been fooled into thinking
That the finishin’ end is at hand
Yet there’s no one to beat you
No one t’ defeat you
’Cept the thoughts of yourself feeling bad

I could go on and on about every single track on Another Side of Bob Dylan, but this day is coming to an end, so all I can do is tell you to listen to it. Get a copy on vinyl, turn it up loud, read the lyrics, and listen to it. Just sit there and hear it the way it was meant to be heard, away from your smartphone and your tv and your computer and all the other shit we multitask and distract ourselves with now when we listen to music. If you give the album what it requires, it gives back in spades. 

That’s the thing about Dylan, he demands you pay attention. 


Stevie Nicks Accepts the BMI Icon Award (by BMI TV)

OMG her little dance at the end hahahah Stevie you’re ridiculous.





Excuse me while I DIE OF LAUGHTER

Well.  All right, then.

This is the greatest thing on this darn website

every time i watch this i’m more and more impressed by how many hours of work must’ve gone into it


Janelle Monae & Outkast - Tightrope (2014)