Springsteen Hits the Appalachian Trail

Does the Boss hike? Or just his anti-hero Outlaw Pete?
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Does the Boss hike? Or just his anti-hero Outlaw Pete?

Ok people, we don’t write about music that often, but:

1) It’s not every day that an artist mentions the Appalachian Trail in the first line of the first song of his latest album.

2) That artist is Bruce Springsteen.

The song is “Outlaw Pete” on Springsteen’s latest, “Working on a Dream.” It’s a ballad about a gunslinger that rides west to give up his lawless days. But first, he raises hell back east:


He was born a little baby on the Appalachian Trail

At six months old, he’d done three months in jail

He robbed a bank in his diapers and his little bare baby feet.

All he said was “Folks my name is Outlaw Pete”


Pete’s tracked down by a bounty hunter while he’s “peacefully fishing by the river” and … well we’re not going to ruin it for you.

Ok, shameless admission. We love Bruce. And who knows, maybe he’s a hiker (we’re checking with his publicist) but he’s always had a way of fusing everyday life with a transcendent connection with nature, whether it’s been for renewal and reflection (“The River”) or the difficulties of making a living off the earth (“This Hard Land.”)

How the man has retained ability to connect with the essential nature of America’s wishes, wants, and needs, even after skyrocketing into an insane tax bracket is pretty much beyond us— but he keeps it coming.

It’s been a busy year for Bruce: President Obama walked out to the pulpit to “The Rising” at a bunch of campaign speeches and it also piped up after Obama gave his acceptance speech on Election night. Springsteen capped off his election duties by playing at a pre-inauguration celebration the day before the inauguration.



Next up, Bruce and the E-Street band play the Super Bowl on Sunday. Looks like they’re teasing fans with a couple of different playlists but who knows what they’ll actually come out swinging with. Looks like Outlaw Pete and the AT aren’t on the docket— but there’s always room for an encore.

—Anthony Cerretani