The Best songs: Bruce Springsteen – Lost in the flood
Lost in the Flood is a song by Bruce Springsteen. It was released on his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. in 1973.
Lost in the Flood is a sparse, piano-driven song, seemingly about a Vietnam War veteran. This is the first of many epic Springsteen songs that elicit strong emotions, usually of despair, grief, and small glimpse of hope. The treatment of veterans in the United States has always been important to Springsteen. The lyrics tell a loose story, invoking a series of images that tell three different stories for each of the three verses.
LOST IN THE FLOOD was recorded during the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. album recording sessions, sometime between early July and early September 1972. Springsteen sings vocals on this track, and is backed by Vini Lopez on drums, David Sancious on piano and organ, and Garry Tallent on bass. The track also features dubbed sound effects courtesy of Steve Van Zandt added later in the sessions, including the opening “thunder crack” which Steve created by dropping an amplifier on a concrete floor. That was Van Zandt’s sole contribution to the recording of the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. album.
According to Sony’s database of Springsteen recording sessions, LOST IN THE FLOOD was cut on 27 Jun 1972 at 914 Sound Studios.
– info from Springsteenlyrics.com
The first verse is about “ragamuffin gunner” and has a recurring theme of religion, including references to the “hit-and-run” pleading for “sanctuary” and hiding beneath a “holy stone,” while “breakin’ beams and crosses with a spastic’s reeling perfection” and “nuns run bald through Vatican halls, pregnant, pleading Immaculate Conception.” Finally, “everybody’s wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood.”
The ragamuffin gunner is returnin’ home like a hungry runaway
He walks through town all alone
“He must be from the fort,” he hears the high school girls say
This countryside’s burnin’ with wolfmen fairies dressed in drag for homicide
They hit and run, plead sanctuary, ‘neath the holy stone they hide
They’re breakin’ beams and crosses with a spastic’s reelin’ perfection
Nuns run bald through Vatican halls pregnant, pleadin’ immaculate conception
And everybody’s wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood
Sticker smiles sweet as gunner breathes deep, his ankles caked in mud
And I said, “Hey, gunner man, that’s quicksand, that’s quicksand that ain’t mud
Have you thrown your senses to the war or did you lose them in the flood?”
The second verse is about a “pure American brother”, “Jimmy the Saint”, perhaps the same person as the “ragamuffin gunner” from the first verse. This is the beginning of Springsteen’s use of automobile themes (along with “The Angel”), as the pure American brother “races Sundays in Jersey in a Chevy stock Super Eight” and “leans on the hood telling racing stories.” Eventually, Jimmy the Saint gets into some sort of accident (described as running “headfirst into a hurricane”) and presumably dies since “there was nothing left but some blood where the body fell.”
That pure American brother, dull-eyed and empty-faced
Races Sundays in Jersey in a Chevy stock super eight
He rides her low on the hip, on the side he’s got Bound For Glory in red, white and blue flash paint
He leans on the hood telling racin’ stories, the kids call him Jimmy The Saint
Well that blaze and noise boy, he’s gunnin’ that bitch loaded to blastin’ point
He rides headfirst into a hurricane and disappears into a point
And there’s nothin’ left but some blood where the body fell
That is, nothin’ left that you could sell
Just junk all across the horizon, a real highwayman’s farewell
And I said, “Hey kid, you think that’s oil? Man, that ain’t oil, that’s blood”
I wonder what he was thinking when he hit that storm
Or was he just lost in the flood?
The third verse concerns a series of people on the streets of a city, presumably New York. They include “Eighth Avenue sailors in satin shirts,” “some storefront incarnation of Maria,” “Bronx’s best apostle”, “the cops,” “the whiz-bang gang” and “some kid” who gets shot in the ensuing gun fight and holds “his leg, screaming something in Spanish.”
Eighth Avenue sailors in satin shirts whisper in the air
Some storefront incarnation of Maria, she’s puttin’ on me the stare
And Bronx’s best apostle stands with his hand on his own hardware
Everything stops, you hear five quick shots, the cops come up for air
And now the whiz-bang gang from uptown, they’re shootin’ up the street
Whoa, that cat from the Bronx starts lettin’ loose, but he gets blown right off his feet
Oh, and some kid comes blastin’ round the corner, but a cop puts him right away
He lays on the street holding his leg screaming something in Spanish
Still breathing when I walked away
And somebody said, “Hey man, did you see that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud”
I wonder what the dude was sayin’, or was he just lost in the flood?
Well, hey man, did you see that, lord, those poor cats are sure messed up
I wonder what they were gettin’ into, or were they all just lost in the flood?
Were they lost, oh, tell me, tell me, man
Were they lost?
The best version, Bruce Springsteen – Lost In The Flood (Hammersmith Odeon, 1975):
Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75 is both a concert video and the fourth live album by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, released in 2006. It is a full-length recording of their performance on 18 November 1975 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, during their Born to Run tours. It was first released as a DVD on November 14, 2005 as part of the Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition package, and then several months later on February 28, 2006 released as an audio CD.
“The evening had been recorded and filmed. Lost in my private Idaho, I’d paid no attention to it. I never looked at it… for thirty years. At the time I was anxious to move away from the commotion and on down the road, as the band and I were “busy bein’ born.””
– Bruce Springsteen (liner notes Hammersmith CD and DVD)
The next Lost In The Flood version is performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Metlife Stadium in NJ on Sept. 21, 2012.
Bruce and the band delivers a truly magnificinet version of this classic song, made my hair stand on end! So friggin’ amazing!
Great audience, but they should be, beeing treated to this kind of performance.
The Icing on the cake is Bruce’s great guitar solo about 5:20 into the video, he plunges into it and shows us how a guitar solo is meant to sound!