Friday Fun: Boss Top Ten, #7--"Trapped"

"Trapped" (cover song, originally by Jimmy Cliff)
Concert Footage: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio (U.S.A.), 2014


Bruce Springsteen has sung a lot of songs in his career.  In addition to his own work (in the form of 18 studio albums), he often plays covers.  Some of the covers are of songs he wrote for other people that have gone on to become hits, such as "Because the Night" which was a hit for Patti Smith and then later 10,000 Maniacs.  But some of them are just straight up covers.  And because there are so many of them, they tend to cycle in and out of setlists--they will be a routine presence in his shows, then fade away, then come back.

Such is the case with "Trapped."  "Trapped" was originally performed by reggae pioneer Jimmy Cliff.  After a bit of Google-fu, it turns out that "Trapped" was first covered by Springsteen on 1985's USA for Africa charity album (best known for "We Are the World"), and then played live during the "Born in the U.S.A." tour in the mid-80s.  It then showed up on a three disk greatest hits collection in 2003, which seems to have brought the song back into the live setlist rotation (for true OCD folks, there is a record of every time Springsteen has played it live).

Somehow, I completely missed "Trapped" until I saw Springsteen live in DC in 2012.  When I first heard it I was completely blown away.  He also played it at the Columbus show (the clip of which is above), and he killed it.

"Trapped," much like "Lonesome Day," is a song about resilience.
Our protagonist is clearly wrapped up in a bad relationship, and is not quite ready to get out yet.  But. that same protagonist knows that eventually he or she will be out of that relationship, and is looking forward to that day when it will be possible.  That's the disconnect in the song---knowing what eventually will happen, but not ready to actually take the steps to make that future come to pass.

It is easy, especially if you are on the outside watching this scenario, to get impatient with people in this position.  "If you know that you are going to leave, then just do it already!"  The truth is that it is not that simple.  People can know that they must leave and not in a position to pull the trigger.  I have found, both with myself and others, that if one is not ready to leave, then they are not ready to leave.

Still, if you know you need to leave, then it is always the right decision to do so.  As the song says, you need to "teach my eyes to see, beyond these walls in front of me."  And once you do that, there are better days ahead.  You know it to be true, even if you can't get there just yet.  You'll walk out of here again.

Well, it seems like I've been playing your game way too long
And it seems the game I've played has made you strong
But when the game is over I won't walk out the loser
And I know that I'll walk out of here again
And I know someday I'll walk out of here again

All of this is brought together by the soaring, anthemic sound.  It perfectly fits the lyrics, and Springsteen sings it with feeling and meaning.

"Trapped" is one of those hidden gems in the Springsteen catalog.  It's a great, great song.

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