"Youngstown" as written by and Bruce Springsteen....
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
My sweet Jenny, I'm sinkin' down
Here darlin' in Youngstown

Well my daddy come on the 0hio works
When he come home from world war two
Now the yards just scrap and rubble
He said, "Them big boys did what Hitler couldn't do"
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" as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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Youngstown song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +3
    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 CommentOne of my favourite springsteen songs. To me, it's about bad conscience, really bad conscience. I imagine a relentless big-shot industrialist who wakes up one day and realizes what he's done (selling guns which have been used to kill people). The end verse is the most powerful part of the song where the narrator actually is praying to the devil to take him to hell.

    On his live performance at the Letterman show, Springsteen himself claims this song is about "loosing everything you've got", and I guess this refers to how the people of Youngstown were affected when the factories closed down.
    circlelineon May 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUh, a bunch of Japanese cars are made in the United States while a bunch of GM and Ford cars are made in Mexico. How is THAT for globalization?
    hangover grenadeon June 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about the industrial decline of the city of youngstown (which is in northeast ohio).
    jefftlarsonon August 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment''Once I made you rich enough
    Rich enough to forget my name''

    The steelworkers whose sweat and effort made the companys fortune, and its owners famous, forgot about the hard work of the people who made them big and successful when they shipped industrial output overseas.
    ramshotelon April 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh, and 700 ton(ne)s of metal a day? Well, the world certainly has changed Sir. Even a medium sized blast furnace will produce ten times that amount. Probably reflects the date of the articles that Bruce read to research the song.
    comeonthewellon April 30, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlive in nyc is way better and much more upbeat love the solo
    hayesrjon February 01, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment I remember George W. Bush's words when promoting his free trade agreements, "Sure some American workers will lose their jobs, but the government will make an effort to provide training for new jobs"
    Bruce's 'Youngstown' should be played at every polling place, during every U.S. election, until the first eight years of century will seem only like a bad dream.
    babsdaddyon May 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat last verse... I want on my tombstone.
    Tig45on June 01, 2013   Link

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