“There is something magical about youth and ‘Bobby Jean’ sings like a dirge reminding you that the kid you once saw in the mirror is gone, and he is not. It’s not closure that Springsteen’s plain words give you, but they seem to be pointing to an open ended grief – in some regard, life is loss. If you can mourn that loss then you can also wake up tomorrow a brand new creature.
You can choose to listen to Springsteen’s songs on several different levels, but actually singing them forces you to get below the surface. ‘Bobby Jean’ is written in about as plain language as you can get, but there is profound loss lying below those simple words.
The more I sang ‘Bobby Jean’ the more I realized regret and the energy that is born out wanting a thing, or missing who you were. ‘Bobby Jean’ helps you realize the difference in who you thought you’d be and who you are – how you see the world and how it really is.
Springsteen writes with such plain language that you may not initially realize what songs like ‘Bobby Jean’ are accomplishing down in your heart. One minute you’re singing about a girl, the next your whole life is laid on the table to be examined. These songs help you feel like you have a place in your own life. This is your world too, sometimes you just need Bruce to remind you.” – Ryan Culwell
Listen to the expanded version of his understanding of the song: