Track three on Bruce Springsteen
's 1982 release, Nebraska
. The lyrics were taken from http://www.xs4all.nl/~maroen/engels/lyrics/mansiono.htm, and then altered (either corrected, or adjusted in terms of formatting).
In an effort to comform to the standards of Everything2 and explicate my lyrics, I should like now to spend a paragraph or two on why "Mansion On The Hill" ought to be here, and what it does for me.
'Tis rather easy to explain the former point, namely, why the song ought to be here: the website is http://www.everything2.com/, and Bruce Springsteen's song "Mansion On The Hill" from his album Nebraska is part of everything, and thus ought to be included. Naturally, however, this project is nothing as boring as Encyclopædia Britannica or the OED, so if I wanted to write about aardvarks, I would have to write about how aardvarks impacted my life; my entry on the zebra would require similar -- as E2 says -- explication.
Why, then, is "Mansion On The Hill" a song sufficiently good to warrant my writing it up? It is not nearly as good as its precursor, "Atlantic City", is it? It is not the title track, nor does Springsteen end with it. It has no correlation to other songs, unlike State Trooper and Open All Night, has it? Lyrically, it cannot begin to compare with Thunder Road, Born To Run, or Jungleland, three examples from one single album.
Could it be that there is a quiet dignity to it? Springsteen, in "Mansion On The Hill", does not whoop and holler as he does in the aforementioned "State Trooper", nor is he performing out-n-out rock-n-roll like in both "Johnny 99" and "Open All Night". It is an extremely simple tale, like "Used Cars"; it is the simple tale of a man, a man's father, a man's sister, and a family's unrealized dreams. With sparse instrumentation and vocalization, with no pretension or affectation, Springsteen does his best to convey to us The Unattainable.
The key -- and it is a subtle key -- are the gates of hardened steel. Nowhere else in the song do we get the impression that the mansion as an entity is doing anything to refuse admittance to the people of the town; without that verse, we only know that the family -- by association, the town and anybody who works in either a factory or a field -- is outside of the mansion, and that the family is content to watch the mansion, to look at it, to engender a sort of pride for being so closely associated with it. The harsh reality is, though, to return to the gates of hardened steel, that the narrator and his ilk could not have anything to do with the mansion, no matter how badly they wanted it.
My explication, then, is this: I like it cuz it's subtle.
Judge for yourself.
There's a place out on the edge of town, sir,
risin' above the factories and the fields.
Now, ever since I was a child, I can remember that mansion on the hill.
In the day, you can see the children playing
on the road that leads to those gates of hardened steel,
steel gates that completely surround, sir, the mansion on the hill.
At night my daddy'd take me and we'd ride
through the streets of a town so silent and still,
park on a back road along the highway side,
look up at that mansion on the hill.
In the summer, all the lights would shine,
there'd be music playin', people laughin' all the time.
Me and my sister we'd hide out in the tall corn fields,
sit and listen to the mansion on the hill.
Tonight, down here in Linden Town,
I watch the cars rushin' by home from the mill.
There's a beautiful full moon rising
above the mansion on the hill.