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Bruce Springsteen – Lost In The Flood lyrics

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
His countryside's burnin' with wolfman fairies dressed in drag for homicide
The hit and run, plead sanctuary, 'neath a 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 'er 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 racing stories, the kids call him Jimmy The
Well the blaze and noise boy, he's gunnin' that bitch loaded to blastin'
He rides head first 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 he 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 hard ware
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
And that cat from the Bronx starts lettin' loose but he gets blown right off
His feet
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?
Hey man, did you see that, those poor cats are sure messed up
I wonder what they were gettin' into, or were they just lost in the flood?

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    The song to me is about the inevitability of escaping ones past and how it changes the trajectory of your life. It is about our primordial bent towards self destructive behaviour when faced with extreme circumstances. The first verse is about a returning vietnam era vet who was shattered by the war living a shell of his former self, driven by his past to descend to a life of addiction, suicide in slow motion. The dogma of religion is put on trial as well by the church's stigmatizing of human behavior and needs as even nuns can not resists temptation. The race car sequence references the human need to tempt fate and try to defy death ultimately leading to the inevitable demise of those who have the innate need to live on the edge. The final stanza just references the extreme desperation that is americas inner cities and the pervasive crime and the sense that ones fate is destined to be decided by the barrel of a gun. A song that is written at a time when america was suffering a moral decay. The aimless wanderings of returning vets who were expected to adjust to a world where killing was normal to one where there nightmarish experiences were expected to be erased in the span of a return flight home, greeted with antipathy by a society that was largely indifferent to their needs, falling into despair as the pervasive availabilty of hard drugs exerted its grasp on the maladjusted. The gravitational pull of violence and self destructive behaviors in our inner city and the love affair with flirting with death and self destructive behavior. All in all a poetic look at societal ills and those on the fringes of nihilism.
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