Monday, December 29, 2014


I was 27 or so, and working with a real tough guy who was maybe three years older.
He wasn't a chef, he was just a guy trying to make it as cook. But he seemed like less of someone that should be a cook than anyone I ever knew  

He had come from a broken home. Some steel town outside Pittsburgh. He said his daddy beat him senseless all the time. It was like he had walked right out of that album, right out of that title song, "Born In The USA".
He seemed like he had probably done some time; maybe he had, but what he talked about the most was how he’d left home at 16, joined the Army and ended up in Vietnam. He was entirely affected by it all; he wore an American flag headband and an Army jacket and we called him Rambo. He talked like Rambo, walked like Rambo, acted like Rambo and wouldn't you know it he looked just like Rambo too, except his nose was a lot more crooked. And he was a big, strong, fit SOB too with a look like he could creep up on you and stab you in the neck and you wouldn't even make a sound. He was the first guy I knew that had one of those little locks of hair growing longer from the back. I think they call it a "Rat-Tail".
His favorite song of course, was Born In The USA, he sang it always.
He seemed like a guy who might go off any minute, kill a cop and end up in the woods somewhere, and a whole army wouldn't be able to shake him out of there. But I found favor with him somehow, maybe because we’d be preppin’ in the kitchen, and I’d get the song started by banging a pot with a spoon keeping time, then "Born down in a deadmans town",  and pretty soon the whole kitchen is singin’ it.
We’d belly bump, and he’d let me box him, like a Doberman might let a Terrier nip at him.
Fuckin’ Rambo. I think about him every time I hear a Springsteen song.

He had a girl, but I think he slugged her one night, and I don't remember if he got fired, or if he just stopped showing up. All I know for sure was he was a stick of dynamite with a short ass fuse. And like a wolf, no matter how much you fed him, he would always have one eye on your throat and another on the woods.

So when a buddy posted "Downbound Train", a song I'd never heard before that I can recollect, it made me think of Rambo. Fits him, it does, maybe even more than the obvious Born In The USA. And I got to say, upon hearing this song I got choked up thinking about Rambo, and how I cant even remember his right name, and hope to God he's doing OK.
I hope to God he's doing OK.

"Downbound Train"

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going mister in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard
Now I work down at the carwash
Where all it ever does is rain
Don't you feel like you're a rider on a downbound train

She just said "Joe I gotta go
We had it once we ain't got it any more"
She packed her bags left me behind
She bought a ticket on the Central Line
Nights as I sleep, I hear that whistle whining
I feel her kiss in the misty rain
And I feel like I'm a rider on a downbound train

Last night I heard your voice
You were crying, crying, you were so alone
You said your love had never died
You were waiting for me at home
Put on my jacket, I ran through the woods
I ran till I thought my chest would explode
There in the clearing, beyond the highway
In the moonlight, our wedding house shone
I rushed through the yard, I burst through the front door
My head pounding hard, up the stairs I climbed
The room was dark, our bed was empty
Then I heard that long whistle whine
And I dropped to my knees, hung my head and cried

Now I swing a sledge hammer on a railroad gang
Knocking down them cross ties, working in the rain
Now don't it feel like you're a rider on a downbound train

1 comment:

West Texas Insomniac said...

My favorite track off of BITUSA. I'm glad it found a new audience.