The live version is a distinct song in its own right.
So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
You don't believe him when he sings this in the original, but in the live version you do. Springsteen sounds old. And the girl seems much more important.In the album version, he is not talking to the girl. Sure she is addressed, but it is merely incidental. You can see the guy is wrapped up in what the future will bring him. It is Springsteen, of course, and you know that the future did bring him a lot, and the song becomes a huge celebration of that special belief that people have in their uniqueness, which was proven to be true in dear Bruce's case, and when you are young, you think it will be proven in your case too.
The live version came as a shock to me. Coming from Bruce the Boss, it should have been a gloat as much as a song. Who can sing the song with a smugger, more satisfied smile? But it is strange what he makes of it. Was Springsteen disappointed in any way? Well, I would have been too, if I had released such horribly mediocre albums as Human Touch and Lucky Town to follow up Darkness on the Edge!
Kidding. But only partly. We all end up being disappointed to some extent. Not with the world, but with ourselves. We are not the perfect, ideal heroes we see ourselves. As we grow, we catch ourselves lying, cheating, manipulating, compromising, and getting used to the mediocre, and we realize we are no better.
It's a town full of losers
And I'm pulling out of here to win.
Only, you pull into another town of losers. Maybe fewer losers, if you are lucky. But losers, nonetheless.
Yes, I am not exactly upbeat today.