"Wreck on the Highway"
The River, 1980
This song takes its title and some of its lyric inspiration from country singer Roy Acuff's 1940s car-crash parable. It portrays the aftermath of an accident from the point of view of a witness who ponders the loss experienced by "a girlfriend or a young wife" as he sees the victim and is haunted by the wreck. After trying it in rehearsal in a country-style arrangement, Springsteen settled on a slower, brooding version highlighting Danny Federici's meditative organ. "The highway's closed at a certain point," Springsteen says of the death-obsessed song. "You have a certain amount of miles that you can make. It's a recognition of mortality."