“Sherry Darling” by Bruce Springsteen

First off, let it be known that “Sherry Darling” is based on a fictional individual, i.e. the titular Sherry not being a real person per se. Furthermore, she is the romantic interest of the vocalist. And by the time all is said and done, she sorta serves as a symbol of a more general idea.

Verse 1

The first verse is centered on The Boss having some type of beef with Sherry’s mom. His girlfriend’s mother is unemployed, and he has taken it upon himself to help her find a job or secure government welfare or what have you. This entails the vocalist ‘driving her down to the unemployment agency’ on a regular basis. But apparently mom cheese is contentious, and he’s growing weary of her. So Bruce proceeds to threaten that if she doesn’t pipe down, this will be the last time he takes her to the agency.


But as the narrative segues into the chorus, it becomes more apparent that this really isn’t about the singer having beef with the old lady. Rather, he’s driving her around as a favor to Sherry Darling. Indeed mum is depicted as being “in the back seat”, which implies that Sherry is up in the front. And Bruce’s vision basically consists of him, her and “some beer” hitting the open highway, all by themselves.

Verse 2

And it isn’t like he’s overly dedicated to Sherry per se. Or at least that’s the impression we get at the beginning of the second verse, where the vocalist goes about noting that there’s a bunch of ‘fine girls’ out of the beach also. 

But as it stands, that venue is inaccessible to Bruce, as he very much depicts himself as a hardcore city dweller. So that said, his “love” for Sherry is very much “real”. But at the same time, he reiterates a lack of interest in driving her mom around. Or as The Boss explains it, when he kicked it to Sherry, he didn’t anticipate her mother being part of the “package” also. 


So once again in the following chorus, he is threatening to basically sack mum from the car, thus cursing her with the arduous task of having to walk and take the subway on an extremely hot day.

Bruce Springsteen's "Sherry Darling" Lyrics

Verse 3

The third and final verse is the only part of the song in which the mother isn’t even mentioned. And here, it is implied that one of the reasons the vocalist may be sweet on Sherry is because she is rebound chick, so to speak. Simply put, she is helping him to overcome a broken heart. 

But there doesn’t really appear to be anything like a hidden or deeper meaning behind this song. Instead Springsteen is an artist who is well known for his folklorist attributes, i.e. being able to spin everyday tales into music. And in this case that’s what he most simply appears to be doing, telling a story which may be premised on his disdain for Sherry Darling’s mom but is ultimately centered on his appreciation of Sherry herself.

Release of “Sherry Darling”

Columbia Records officially introduced “Sherry Darling” to the world on 17 October 1980. The song is part of Bruce Springsteen’s album, “The River”. And four months later, during February of 1981, it was also issued as the fourth single (third in the Western world) from that project.

Some fans of The Boss were already familiar with this tune even prior to its official dropping.


It was written by Springsteen and also co-produced by The Boss and his regular collaborators Jon Landau and “Little” Steven Zandt, the latter of whom is also a long-standing member of the E Street Band, i.e. the musical group that Springsteen fronts. 

And this song had actually been recorded in 1977. It was originally intended to be a part of his fourth album – “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (1978) – but ultimately didn’t make the cut due to thematic reasons. As such Bruce and co. had already begun performing it live prior to the 1980s.

More Facts about “Sherry Darling”

By the looks of things “Sherry Darling” was not a hit at all. “The River” was the fifth album that Springsteen had ever put out. And even though the overall project was a success – for instance marking the first time The Boss had ever topped the Billboard 200 – this was before he ever scored a major hit single. (Bruce’s first big hit was actually 1984’s “Dancing in the Dark“.)

“Sherry Darling” made headlines in late 2021 because of its inclusion on the double-CD video release entitled The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concert. This package consists of footage of Bruce Springsteen, alongside The E Street Band, from a performance they held in Madison Square Garden during September of 1979. 

And as noted earlier, this song was a part of their playlist even prior to its release and therefore has made it onto this video also.

Sherry Darling

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