Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The Rangers had a homecoming
In Harlem late last night
And the Magic Rat drove his sleek machine
Over the Jersey state line
Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
The Rat pulls into town, rolls up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance
And disappear down Flamingo Lane

Bruce was born on this day in 1949. His father Douglas was a bus driver of Dutch and Irish ancestry, and his mother Adele Ann Zerilli was an Italian American legal secretary. His grandfather was born in Vico Equense, a village near Naples. Bruce was raised a Roman Catholic in Freehold, NJ, and his songs tell of village life--in this case, the village life of hustlers and petty crooks, of the hungry and the hunted who face off in the streets. He paints a picture of the night scene like a rock and roll Rembrandt, capturing the very moment the gang meets up beneath that giant Exxon sign.

Bruce is an opera singer, but he sings about the "opera out on the Turnpike, and the ballet being fought out in the alley." His song begins with the midnight gang assembling for a rumble, and ends with two hearts beating in the tender night. Between those two points, visionaries dance with backstreet girls, lovers struggle in dark corners, shots echo down a hallway, and no one watches as an ambulance pulls away.

Outside the street's on fire in a real death waltz
Between what's flesh and what's fantasy
And the poets down here don't write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife, they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland

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