One soft infested summer me and Terry became friends
Trying in vain to breathe the fire we was born in
Catching rides to the outskirts tying faith between our teeth
Sleeping in that old abandoned beach house getting wasted in the heat
And hiding on the backstreets, hiding on the backstreets
With a love so hard and filled with defeat
Running for our lives at night on them backstreets

Slow dancing in the dark on the beach at Stockton's Wing
Where desperate lovers park we sat with the last of the Duke Street Kings
Huddled in our cars waiting for the bells that ring
In the deep heart of the night to set us loose from everything
to go running on the backstreets, running on the backstreets
We swore we'd live forever on the backstreets we take it together

Endless juke joints and Valentino drag where dancers scraped the tears
Up off the street dressed down in rags running into the darkness
Some hurt bad some really dying at night sometimes it seemed
You could hear the whole damn city crying blame it on the lies that killed us
Blame it on the truth that ran us down you can blame it all on me Terry
It don't matter to me now when the breakdown hit at midnight
There was nothing left to say but I hated him and I hated you when you went away

Laying here in the dark you're like an angel on my chest
Just another tramp of hearts crying tears of faithlessness
Remember all the movies, Terry, we'd go see
Trying to learn how to walk like heroes we thought we had to be
And after all this time to find we're just like all the rest
Stranded in the park and forced to confess
To hiding on the backstreets, hiding on the backstreets
We swore forever friends on the backstreets until the end
Hiding on the backstreets, hiding on the backstreets

Lyrics submitted by Bobo192

Backstreets song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentIn my opinion this is one of the finest songs ever put on record. One of the ones I'll drop everything for when it comes up, I just turn the volume up and close my eyes. Even just the piano at the beginning gives this incredible feeling within me... It sorta reminds me of my best friend, Arry. We met last summer and, well, yea it sorta follows the song (assuming it is only about a friendship) what happens. Even how when somebody else became really close to her and it felt like this other person was tearing her away from me... Its a beautiful song. I love this album, it seems every song can be related to, but in particular for me, this one.
    Thesmellyoneon September 07, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCheekyBoy099, that's my favorite part of the song too. I'm a little young for Springsteen -- I didn't really discover him until high school in the late 90's -- but he's definitely my favorite musical artist of all time. "Backstreets" is one of my fave songs, and the way his voice cracks in the bridge is an incredibly emotional, painful moment. I've always assumed Terry was a boy, the narrator's best friend, and the pain isn't so much losing the girl but losing the girl and the best friend. As a teeanger, your friends are often your family (cause parents just don't understand!), and there's no greater betrayal than losing your girl to your best friend.

    The first verse or so describes an idealic summer where the narrator has his best friend and his best girl and gets into all kinds of innocent teenage trouble, before moving into the darker elements of young love, through descriptions of the seedier side of town and the ultimate betrayal. Then, he moves back to those blissful days when things were simple and easy and hurt wasn't something he understood firsthand.

    I don't normally have trouble interpreting Springsteen songs, but "Backstreets" has always been tricky for me. The way the narrator flits between characters, Terry and the unnamed girl (at least, that's who I think it is), makes the song so hard to understand. For me, the most logical interpretation was a betrayal so painful that the narrator forever confuses the two, which is why it's all the more painful -- because he can never have a relationship again with either party without being reminded of the mistake they made when they were young.
    Frost82on October 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti have always felt that this song would be a great soundtrack to a montage of kids having fun in summer, enjoying the last moments of their totally free and innocent youth, because while the lyrics tend to indicate a relationship whith a girl, the song is really just about kids who want to be friends forever but realize they cant.
    my favorite line, no special metaphor or anything but still powerful, is "Remember all the movies, Terry, we'd go see/ Trying to learn how to walk like heroes we thought we had to be/ And after all this time to find we're just like all the rest/ Stranded in the park and forced to confess"
    fallenchief123on July 02, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIt's all there. This song isn't just about "Terry." It's about a significant other and a good friend. You can think of those persons as two "loves."

    "...I hated him and I hated you when you went away."

    This song jumps between those two persons (back and forth).

    There's more clues about the significant other sleeping with the good friend (linking everyone together):

    "Just another tramp of hearts crying tears of faithlessness
    Remember all the movies, Terry, we'd go see"

    It references a moment between a significant other and being unfaithful. Immediately after, he jumps to thinking about the good times with the good friend...betrayal, hurt, and then remembering the good - both are "gone."

    Additionally, "backstreets" implies something out of sight and hidden - secret affair. It also implies a special relationship between him and his good friend, which the girl wasn't a part of- eventually, she wanted that link to his good friend....and, she did.


    Dom9360on March 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI can see the ambiguity in this song, but I don't believe it was initially written about a male friendship. Bruce may use a bit of revisionist history today when discussing the song, but even he has said his songs take on new and different meanings as they age. The reasons I think the song is about a relationship with a woman is because while it may be questionable in the finished version we have here, the genesis of the song was clearly about a relationship with a woman.

    During the early days of the Born to Run sessions, Bruce was singing a longer more drawn out version of Shes the One, which contained the early seeds of what would become Backstreets. Bruce was streamlining his wordiness during this period, and you can see the streamlining that took place from his earlier records to Born to Run, and progressed even further into Darkness.

    Obviously Shes the One is about a girl, I think we can all agree upon that, so...

    From Early versions of Shes the One:

    Most of all I hated that town and what they did,
    I hated the way they made us live,
    I hated him and his fancy ways,
    and I hated you when you went away

    And of course Backstreets:

    There was nothing left to say but I hated him
    and I hated you when you went away

    From Backstreets:

    Laying here in the dark you're like an angel on my chest
    Just another tramp of hearts crying tears of faithlessness

    (By the way, just how does this imagery project to a platonic male friendship?)

    Similar imagery from Shes the One:

    Now you're back and you're huddled in a corner
    Where you hated me baby just like a child.

    From Shes the One:

    Remember all those movies, baby,
    all those movies that we'd go see
    Trying to learn how to walk tough, talk rough
    Just like those heroes we thought we had to be.

    And of Course Backstreets:

    Remember all the movies, Terry, we'd go see
    Trying to learn how to walk like heroes we thought we had to be

    Furthermore when he would play Backstreets in concert in 78, he would slow it down and go into a free word version of Sad Eyes, which would later become Drive All Night released on the River album. Sad Eyes, like Drive All Night, was clearly about a woman, and her coming back into his life much like the last verse of Backstreets. Now of course you can say that Sad Eyes was just a new song idea he was trying out, but then why stick it in the middle of a song about male friendship?
    chrisg19on January 27, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHow has no one commented on this, perhaps Bruce's most heartbreaking song? One of the most painful tales of betrayal I've ever heard! Listen to Bruce wail after the third verse and then wail on his guitar for a vicious-yet-understated solo. Powerful, powerful song.
    jnb987on January 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love everything about this song. The piano in the beginning is extremely powerful. The passion in Bruce's voice is indescribable. The lyrics are amazing. This has to be the best album of all time. I wish I could have been alive when this album was released.
    luckycharmson February 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is by far my favorite Bruce song, and I like many of them. I had heard that Terry might be a guy, but reading the lyrics above, I doubt it.
    benjyedwardson July 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRoy Bittan’s Piano performance is the greatest ever captured on record
    bkat004on December 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song seriously needs more comments. One of the most powerful songs I've ever heard in my life. It does something to me. I don't know how or why, but it gets to me. I love every part of this song from beginning to end and despite its depressing nature, it always manages to cheer me up. Can't say enough about it.
    sexmaniacon February 16, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top