100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time

An expert panel of writers and artists pick Springsteen's best songs, from "Rosalita" to "Wrecking Ball"

27

"Highway Patrolman"

bruce springsteen
Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images

Nebraska, 1982

"It's the thin line between stability and that moment when time stops and everything goes to black," Springsteen said of the darkest moments on Nebraska. "Highway Patrolman" shows how rich that harsh palette can be. "My name is Joe Roberts, I work for the state," he sings, opening the story of a cop chasing his criminal brother to the Canadian border, only to let him escape. The song is an Oscar-worthy drama compressed into a few hushed acoustic verses, with allusions to Vietnam and rural hardship weaved into its sibling narrative. "There are these interesting family dynamics," says Arcade Fire's Win Butler. "It's like looking through someone's old wedding photos."

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