Here in north east Ohio
Back in eighteen-o-three
James and Danny Heaton
Found the ore that was linin' Yellow Creek
They built a blast furnace
Here along the shore
And they made the cannon balls
That helped the Union win the war

Here in Youngstown
Here in Youngstown
My sweet Jenny, I'm sinkin' down
Here darlin' in Youngstown

Well my daddy worked the furnaces
Kept 'em hotter than hell
I come home from 'Nam worked my way to scarfer
A job that'd suit the devil as well
Taconite, coke and limestone
Fed my children and made my pay
Then smokestacks reachin' like the arms of god
Into a beautiful sky of soot and clay

Here in Youngstown
Here in Youngstown
Sweet Jenny, I'm sinkin' down
Here darlin' in Youngstown

Well my daddy come on the Ohio works
When he come home from World War Two
Now the yard's just scrap and rubble
He said, "Them big boys did what Hitler couldn't do"
Yeah these mills they built the tanks and bombs
That won this country's wars
We sent our sons to Korea and Vietnam
Now we're wondering what they were dyin' for

Here in Youngstown
Here in Youngstown
My sweet Jenny, I'm sinkin' down
Here darlin' in Youngstown

From the Monongaleh valley
To the Mesabi iron range
To the coal mines of Appalacchia
The story's always the same
Seven-hundred tons of metal a day
Now sir you tell me the world’s changed
Once I made you rich enough
Rich enough to forget my name

In Youngstown
In Youngstown
My sweet Jenny, I'm sinkin' down
Here darlin' in Youngstown

When I die I don't want no part of heaven
I would not do heavens work well
I pray the devil comes and takes me
To stand in the fiery furnaces of hell


Lyrics submitted by pyledrvr, edited by ncc74656m


Youngstown song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentAs a former steelworks employee I love this song. But did you know that the "Jenny" he sings to in the chorus isn't his wife or child, but the blast furnace at the Youngstown steelworks? It's common in the steel industry to name the blast furnaces at a plant - for example, the four BF's at Scunthorpe in the UK are called Anne, Bess, Victoria and Mary (after four Queens). 'Jeanette' (or 'Jenny') was the nickname of the furnace at Youngstown.
    comeonthewellon April 30, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI absolutely love this song. I grew up in an industrial factory town, which suffered really badly in the late 20th century from deindustrialization and pimping the factories to China, just like Youngstown.

    The song is about the collapse of the blue collar America, the collapse of the American steel industry, the collapse of the working class and their dreams, hopes and aspirations. Working in a steel mill is comparable to Hell, but it still is better than being unemployed and on the mercy of charity.

    The protagonist is a second generation steelworker - perhaps the same as in song "Born in the USA"? - who has returned home from Viet Nam war and works as scarfer. His task is to burn off any irregularities of finished hot steel. His father, a WWII veteran, works at blast furnaces. Pyrometallurgy requires notoriously high temperatures, and the work is immensely dangerous. Taconite, coke and limestone are the feedstock of blast furnace making pig iron, and the stacks reaching the sky refer to the stacks of open hearth furnaces for refining the pig iron into steel. "Sweet Jenny" is not a girlfriend or daughter, but Jeannette Furnace, the blast furnace of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Brier Hill Works. She was taken off blast 1977 and demolished 1998.

    "The big boys did what Hitler couldn't do" refers to an ex-steelworker's words when he saw the Republic steel six blast furnaces being demolished. Mismanagement, bad business practises and greed drove many steel giants into bankruptcy - and gone was also the jobs, prosperity and American way of life. The big boys managed to do what Hitler tried and failed - destroy the soul of the American working class and middle class and destroy their jobs, sense of security, hopes and the American dream. The protagonist then asks why at all did they fight in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam, and why their sons died if no better future was available.

    I like the electric version of this song more. It contains the true feeling and sense of steelmaking.
    suviljanon June 09, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe factory workers story. Tells the story of the rust belt- the former industrial heart of America, now a shadow of what once was, the steel industry losing to up and coming industrial giants like China. A beautiful, sad song, probably one of my all time favorites.
    yossarianismeon May 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of my favourite Springsteen numbers, one of the greatest written songs in our time. My favourite quote is :
    He said, "Them big boys did what Hitler couldn't do"
    meaning by the conditions in the mines could kill the workers, something the evil dictator of Adolf Hitler's army couldn't do as they fought in the lines in World War 2. Simply fantastic
    Sawney Beaneon January 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe live electric version is as good as Springsteen's early music. Great lyrics. I think the Hitler line refers to some of the American steel mills not being able to compete locally and shutting down. Hitler was not able to bomb them into scrap and rubble, but that is the state of the steel mill after closing.
    STL Beatles fanon February 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with STL Beatles Fan on the Hitler line. However, I prefer the accoustic version to the electric, though both are amazing. I think the accoustic version makes the song beautifully haunting. You can't get it out of your head.
    CharlatanSinon March 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYoungstown is actually a real blue collar city in ohio. i actually grew up there before leaving for greener pastures. a lot of references to the city and history of steel working.
    today the ghosts of steel mills still exist in youngstown and not only are depressing and an eyesore, but something the people of youngstown will never escape.
    jetercpon May 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI prefer the electric version. You can feel the rage in the guitar solo and the last verse makes me thrill. Great song indeed.
    (Nice to know about that real place, jetercp)
    Alatristeon June 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is a much darker twist on Billy Joel's Allentown. Both cities have similar industrial histories. And, um, just to clarify, there are no mines in Youngstown, Ohio. For years, Youngstown was a steel giant and home to Youngstown Tube and Sheet, one of the regions biggest steel producers. Unfortunately, due to foreign competition, Youngstown's steel mills are all but abandoned. The city went through some hard times, and eventually lost almost half of its 1950 population of 150,000. Today, Youngstown is a progressive city of approx. 80,000 hardworking folks trying to breath life back into this former industrial powerhouse. Downtown is beginning to attract businesses again. Projects are under way to clean up and improve the appearance of the city. Having spent part of my childhood in the Rust Belt of Ohio, this song is somewhat personal. Springsteen also mentions the Monongahela Valley (Pa and Wv), Mesabi Iron Range (Mn)and the Appalachian coal mines (Oh, Pa, Wv, Va, Ky, Tn). All of these areas are also being hurt by imported products being purchased over domestic goods. The rich and well-to-do find it easy to overlook these people and their plights, but I cannot stand by and watch anymore lives be destroyed. Read the lyrics carefully. Remember that every time you purchase a Japanese car or a product that was "Made In China", you are helping to kill a city... Thank you Bruce for making America's "secret" depression known to the world.
    gmaniac6899on August 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen played with the E Street Band electric, this song rocks and really hits home.

    Classic Springsteen story of the demise of blue collar America. The protagonist worked jobs that most would equate to toiling in hell in Youngstown's steel mills, but that hell was heaven compared to the real hell of dealing with life once those jobs have disappeared.
    Pirtyfool22on May 17, 2007   Link

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