Lost in the Flood

BruceMainPage

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?”

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?

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?

Music and themes

“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 a sore spot for Springsteen. The lyrics[1] tell a loose story, invoking a series of images that tell three different stories for each of the three verses.
Lyrics

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 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.”

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.”

About SimpleLivingOver50

At 53 years old I am starting to realize how life changes both physically and emotionally. I strive for a life of simplicity. I am winning the battle with type II diabetes, created a plan to have all debt paid off in 4 years including the house, taking advantage of every opportunity to live life to it's fullest through adventures in nature, hiking, biking, loving and learning.
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2 Responses to Lost in the Flood

  1. Mashal says:

    I just love Bruce Springsteen! Especially his Dancing in the Dark, and I’m on Fire. One of my favourites.

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