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Bruce Springsteen - Cadillac Ranch (1981)

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  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.05
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"Cadillac Ranch" is a song written by Bruce Springsteen that was first released on Springsteen's 1980 album The River. In ...

"Cadillac Ranch" is a song written by Bruce Springsteen that was first released on Springsteen's 1980 album The River. In 1981 it was released as a single in Europe, backed by "Be True" in France and by "Wreck on the Highway" in the UK. Although it was not released as a single in the US, it did reach #48 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. A favorite in concert, a live version was included on Live/1975–85. A version was also included on the documentary film Blood Brothers.

Music and lyrics

"Cadillac Ranch" is an exuberant, playful rocker with rockabilly influences. According to music critic Dave Marsh, it "made dinosaurs dance." It is highlighted by Clarence Clemons' saxophone solo. Author June Skinner Sawyers called the song "pure rowdy fun" and listed it as one of Springsteen's ten funniest songs. John Cruz of Sputnik Music called the song "just plain fun," noting its infectious beat. However, the theme of the song is "the transitoriness of all existence" and the inevitability of death. Marsh called the song "one of the smartest songs ever about the inevitability of death". Marsh further noted that although the protagonist of "Cadillac Ranch" seems similar to the protagonists of earlier Springsteen records, in this song he appears naive and vulnerable rather than bold and innocent.

The song's title comes from Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Cadillac Ranch is a sculpture showing ten Cadillac automobiles with their hoods buried in the ground. Springsteen used Cadillac Ranch as a metaphor for his theme; that these once elite cars are now expendable.

Among the real life people namechecked in the song are Burt Reynolds, Junior Johnson, and James Dean, all deceased. However, in concert Springsteen can be flexible with the names used. For example, in 1985 concerts in Australia, Reynolds was replaced by the fictional Mad Max.

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