Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
I'll be leaving in the morning from Saint Mary's Gate
We wouldn't change this thing even if we could somehow
'Cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There's a darkness in this town that's got us too
But they can't touch me now
And you can't touch me now
They ain't gonna do to me
What I watched them do to you

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day
All down the line
Just say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day this time

Now I don't know what it always was with us
We chose the words, and yeah, we drew the lines
There was just no way this house could hold the two of us
I guess that we were just too much of the same kind

Well say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day all boys must run away
So say goodbye it's Independence Day
All men must make their way come Independence Day

Now the rooms are all empty down at Frankie's joint
And the highway she's deserted down to Breaker's Point
There's a lot of people leaving town now
Leaving their friends, their homes
At night they walk that dark and dusty highway all alone

Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say can change anything now
Because there's just different people coming down here now
And they see things in different ways
And soon everything we've known will just be swept away

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say
But won't you just say goodbye it's Independence Day
I swear I never meant to take those things away

Lyrics submitted by oofus

Independence Day Lyrics as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Independence Day song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentFor me, this probably the saddest Springsteen song. In fact I think that "The River" contains the most emotional songs- tied with "Nebraska". Just a shitload of songs on "The River" really get me, this one, "The River", "Point Blank", "Stolen Car", "Drive All Night", "Wreck On The Highway". Even "Hungry Heart" has a pretty melancholy story within it, as most people know. But "Independence Day" just has this incredible sense of the loss of something that can never be retrieved- a relationship with a father, the familiarity of surroundings. There are a ton of striking lyrics in this song and the one of them that gets me the most is: "They ain't gonna do to me what I watched them do to you". Thanks Boss.
    jayd44on December 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's surprising that noone has commented on this song so far.

    I don't relate to this song personally, however, Springsteen does a great job of capturing the turmoil of his own relationship with his father.

    The title of the song is also fabulously misleading. I was expecting an all-American tune about history but instead, we get a very personally historic song.
    elwyn5150on December 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyea this is one of my favorite songs from the river
    dasquien!on October 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think it's a struggle between a son and his father.

    Look here: "There was just no way this house could hold the two of us."
    -Living in the same house

    And here: "I guess that we were just too much of the same kind."
    -Like father and son; everyone hates this, and kids hate to admit this.

    "I'll be leaving in the morning from St. Mary's Gate."

    St Mary's Gate is a hotel and church. More importantly, it's a church in New york. Either way, it's a place where he's staying away from the house (he's leaving "in the morning.")

    Of course, there's a lot of references of Independence day (separation; get away; start own life).
    -Again, the struggle between him and his father.

    Keep in mind the "cute" reference of "papa"; it's a respect thing; he's going to part without fighting anymore.

    "And soon everything we've known will just be swept away..."
    -Reference to leaving and learning himself; finding himself.

    Finally: "I swear I never meant to take those things away."
    -Nice exit; a feeling of guilt; he loves his father.

    Catch the over "slowness" of the song; he's not angry; he's frustrated, however.
    Dom9360on March 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationOf all Bruce's songs, Independence Day brings up the most of emotions in me. The raw, down-to-earth sound just gets me. It sounds so honest I can relate a part of me in it and almost brings me to tears.
    zettjhon November 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    MemoryFor me, this song reminds me of my relationship with my ex-wife. When I read the lyrics and change the word "papa" to her name, the song's story rings true. At the very end of my marriage, there was nothing else that could be said, and I had to decide to move away from my hometown and somewhat cut ties with many people that I had a relationship. The darkness in the house definitely go the best of us. There was nothing else to do, we couldn't do anything more. The hurt was present in both of us and I knew it would never leave me, and it hasn't.

    By moving, they and her can't hurt me anymore. Only the memories do that now. But at least its just the memories so in a sense, I have had an independence day.

    Our words and lines were drawn and there is no chance to ever change them. That is the worst part and how this song affects me. In the end, the two of us were just too different and in some ways too much of the same, and our house just could not have held the both of us.

    Leaving town made me feel that they were not going to do to me what I saw them do to you is especially emotional for me as influences in her life made her her and me me.
    But I will always love her and will always feel the pain. Difficult combination.
    tmk3131on February 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningFor me, this song takes a turn during the saxophone solo in the middle. Clearly, the first part of the song is a father struggling to impress his own realities and priorities upon his son.

    I feel the son resents his father's love affair with his own beliefs, his town.... a love affair the young son refuses to buy into. "There's a darkness in this town thats got us too..but they cant touch me now and you can't touch me now" and so... all men must make their way come independence day. FAST FORWARD.

    I see the son returning to the town now a man. The town, what its stood for, has changed. The people, the culture, the values that the father tried to impress upon his son previously, have devolved over time. The highway is deserted, people have left town,"theres just people coming down now and they see things in different ways and soon everything we know will be swept away"......... when son returns.... he's not triumphant as he once surely would have been.

    Rather, he is too late to preserve the values of his father that he once strived to avoid... and over time... arrived at independently of his father's force.

    The use of the word "NOW" changes drastically throughout the song..... and come the end of the song, son is with father, and explaining to him that now he.... the father.... must say goodbye to his own town and values.

    "I now know the things you wanted that you could not say.......i swear i never meant to take those things away." Those things being the values, beliefs and traditions of the town that have now abandoned the father, and ironically enough.... the son.... as well.

    At the end, a matured grown son aligns with his father, who now must face his own independence day.... and rediscover himself... with his son by his side.
    Scott0880on July 07, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me, its about a son who has grown to a man its time to leave the house, leave the home his father raised him in, leave his father's life. Not completely, not what I mean. Just that he's going to follow different footsteps, follow a different path than his dad. They're just different people. Nothing his father says about where the son wants to go will change the son's mind. And I think the son is telling him its okay. Its okay he's leaving, its okay he's following a different path in life. To me, there is still love conveyed there for his father even if he's not going exactly where the father wanted him to go.
    patsfanmasson August 18, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBruce's tumultous relationship with his father is very well known. He speaks about, writes about it and even says he is "thankful" for it for without it, he wouldn't have much to write about. It tormented him so much, that he started therapy in 1982. HIs father was most likely bipolar, an alocholic (Bruce speaks of having to go get him from bars as a kid) known to beat Bruce, rip the phone from the wall, etc... Never able to keep a job, tormented and living in the shadow of his sister who was killed at 5...took so much out on Bruce, his long hair, quest to be different. Bruce says, In my house, 2 things were unpopular...me and my guitar. Their relationship improved with separation and his success and his father had a stroke later that improved his personality. They reconciled before he died. Bruce admits to inheriting his DNA...he takes anit-depressants and said it is the best thing he ever did for himself. HIs raging, 4 hr concerts in the 80s were to drive the demons out ofh is head for awhile..those started in childhood. He is a deeply complex man who writes from the heart and yet has a goofy side, too.. HIlarious on stage at times, he can turn on a dime and get dead serious like this. WE are all the better for his gift.
    brucejuiceon January 03, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationIt's about growing pains. Sure he had some problems with his father but that is just a metaphor. It's really about a disagreement with his old self. Now that he has learned something, nothing can change that, even if he wanted it to. Leaving from St Mary's Gate in the "Morning" is not about his dad. "They ain't gonna do to me (new self) what I watched them do to you (his old self). "There was just no way this house could hold the two of us I guess that we were just too much of the same kind" yeah because they were both him. A house is often used to describe a person. "All men must make their way come Independence Day" All men, not just Bruce. I could go on but it's very similar I believe to Bob Dylan's "It's all over now baby blue" so if you get that then you get this.
    james10695on April 30, 2020   Link

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