- "Streets of Philadelphia". "The night has fallen/I'm lyin'awake/I can feel myself fading away/So receive me, brother, with your faithless kiss, or will we leave each other alone like this/On the streets of Philadelphia..."
- As well as "Atlantic City", especially the line 'Maybe everything that dies one day comes back'.
- Gotta give some points to "The River", which probably single-handedly earned him the nickname of "John Steinbeck in black leather".
- Then there is "Devils and Dust". The video is especially powerful.We've got God on our side.We're just trying to survive.What if what you do to surviveKills the thing you love?
- Along with "Lonesome Day". For all that it sounds like a rousing anthem, it's actually from the POV of the relatives of those who died in 9/11.
- The album The Rising can utterly wreck anyone who was touched by 9/11. Particular mention goes to "Empty Sky" — particularly the lyric "I want a kiss from your lips, I want an eye for an eye... I woke up this morning to the empty sky..."
- Not to mention "Into The Fire" and "You're Missing".
- The title track. It's about a man going up into one of the towers to rescue trapped people, and the gorgeous melody just adds to it.
- And "Into the Fire" is about a man grieving the loss of his wife, who went "into the fire" on that day. The story of the unrecognized women heroes of 9/11 is a tearjerker in its own right.
- And then, right after the title track there's "Paradise", an utterly devastating piece from the point of view of a suicide bomber.
- Some someone who lives in New York City, "City of Ruins" can be a very powerful tearjerker..
- On the 2012 tour, Bruce uses this song to introduce the band. After he introduced everybody at the show, he asked "Are we missing anybody?" He didn't need to mention Clarence Clemons' name; 65,000 people held up their hands and bowed towards the stage.
- A live version of "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" performed right after the death of E Street member Danny Federici. Right before they start the song, Bruce says, "We'd better get this right...someone's watching."
- On a related note, "The Last Carnival" was written as a tribute to Federici. "We'll be riding the train without you tonight/the train that keeps on moving, its black smoke scorching the evening sky/a million stars shining above us like every soul living and dead/has been gathered together by God to sing a hymn over your bones..." It's even more poignant if you know that Federici's son Jason plays the accordion in the song.
- "Born in the USA", which is about the treatment of the Vietnam War soldiers upon returning to America.
- "Brilliant Disguise", about a married couple who stopped loving each other.
- "My Hometown" - complete with a Downer Ending.
- "Cover Me" is actually a pretty lively song which, if you're in the right mood, could be cheerful. However, those who are a state of depression may interpret the lyrics as a request for assisted suicide. It would not help.
- The album version of "No Surrender" seems to be a generic rebellion song. The live version, however, sounds a whole lot like an elegy.
- "41 Shots (American Skin)". Wow. Doubles as Awesome Music.
- "Highway Patrolman". It hits even harder if you've seen the movie that Sean Penn made based on the song, The Indian Runner.
- "Youngstown" - a powerful story of not just death of an industrial town, but the whole steel industry in USA, and the collapse of the American working class and their dreams. The final words, said by the mouth of an old steelworker, are true tear-jerkers:When I die I don't want no part of Heaven; I would not do Heaven's work well
I pray the devil comes and takes me to stand in the fiery furnaces of Hell
- "Gypsy Biker," about the narrator's brother being killed in Iraq.
- "Bobby Jean." When he says that he wants to say "I miss you baby, good luck goodbye, Bobby Jean..." not crying isn't an option.
- "Downbound Train." The Downer Ending is sad as all hell.
- "Drive All Night" will really get you, especially anyone who's ever had a broken heart that just wouldn't heal.When I lost you honey sometimes I think I lost my guts too
- "Wreck on the Highway" is a tearjerker song in which the narrator finds the victim of a car crash, who presumably died right in front of him after pleading for help. After watching the man carted away to a hospital the narrator delivers the saddest line of the song:I thought of a girlfriend, or a young wife, and a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
To say your baby died in a wreck on the highway
- "My Father's House" : the narrator has a dream about reuniting with his estranged father. He awakes and rushes out to his father's house to repair the rift between them.I walked up the steps and stood on the porch
A woman I didn't recognize came and spoke to me through a chained door
I told her my story and who I'd come for
She said "I'm sorry, son, but no one by that name lives here anymore"
- "Land of Hope and Dreams" is a hymn with an age-old theme, and the band means every word, every note of it. In this performance from the 2000 "Reunion" show in New York Bruce himself starts to cry.
- "Wrecking Ball", using the demolition of Giants Stadium as a metaphor for how life will rob you of all your illusions.And hard times come, and hard times go, and hard times come, and hard times go, and hard times come, and hard times go, and hard times come, and hard times go, and hard times come, and hard times goYeah just to come again
- "Jack of All Trades," in which the narrator sings about eking out a living by doing whatever menial jobs he can find after the 2008 stock market crash. He sounds utterly exhausted throughout the song. In the last verse he sings "if I had me a gun, I'd find the bastards and shoot them on sight," but rather than sounding rageful, he just sounds bitter and tired.
- "The Wall" from 2014's High Hopes. The narrator visits the Vietnam Memorial to pay tribute to a good friend and fellow musician; it's been years since his friend died in the war, but he's still heartbroken and angry about the loss and the general futility of the war.Cigarettes and a bottle of beerThis poem that I wrote for youThis black stone and these hard tearsAre all I got left now of you...
- This live version of "Blood Brothers" from the 2000 E Street Reunion Tour, especially when he chokes up while singing the last verse and holding hands with his bandmates. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment.
- "Racing in the Street" might be the saddest song ever written about car racing. The last verse is particularly tear-jerking.
- "Backstreets" - "But I hated him/and I hated you when you went away"
- The ten-minute "New York City Serenade" is a bittersweet, ethereal ending to The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle with a lushly orchestrated ending that can be quite moving.
- "Jungleland" from Born to Run, on the other hand, is more of a Downer Ending, again with lush orchestration."Outside, the street's on fire in a real death waltz
Between what's flesh and what's fantasy
And the poets down here don't write nothing at all, man
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife, they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland."
Tear Jerker / Bruce Springsteen