Wait, it’s Wednesday!
Welcome to a bonus Wednesday—Woden’s Day for all you pagans out there—edition of Wanderland. Some weeks, I just have a lot to say. So, here we go.
Bruce Springsteen tells a story about “Streets of Philadelphia,” the song he wrote for Jonathan Demme’s celebrated 1993 film Philadelphia, in which Tom Hanks plays a gay lawyer who sues his firm when the partners fire him after discovering he has AIDS. Demme wanted to package the film for a wide, popular audience, so he hired the personification of mainstream pop culture—Bruce Springsteen—to give him what he described as a “guitar-dominated, American-rock anthem about injustice to start this movie off.” Springsteen tried to give Demme what he asked for, but kept failing. Sometimes even Bruce Springsteen can’t write a good Bruce Springsteen song, and the big, belting, “Born in the U.S.A.”-style anthem Demme was looking for refused to be written. Instead, Springsteen came up with the melancholy, introspective “Streets of Philadelphia,” which was a real departure for him. “Eventually, I came up with that tiny, little beat and I figured it wasn’t what he wanted, but I sent it to him anyway,” Springsteen said some years later.
Sometimes, you don’t need all the thunder—sometimes, you can just trust the story, the material, and the audience.