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“The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.”
- Bruce Springsteen -

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#80 Human Touch by Bruce Springsteen

Last night I watched the Kennedy Center Honors. During the tribute to Mr. Springsteen, I found myself rather emotional. He is just a man. Just a person. So, why the outpouring of so much adoration and tears? Why the moving tribute to this boy from New Jersey? The Kennedy honor highlighted how Springsteen’s music is woven into the fabric of America and has proven to be a voice for the lost ideals and values America is supposed to stand for. But it’s so much more than that. Springsteen has provided us with something that transcends American ideals or political ideology. He has touched us in a place that few people know how to reach. He has offered us so graciously “just a little of that human touch”.

Because he was willing to take his search, his life’s struggle and expose his pain to the world through his art, he has drawn thousands upon thousands of souls to his music, and consequently to himself. He doesn’t just sing about the “losers” of the world, providing them with some sense of redemption, a sense of belonging and hope, rather he is one of these lost souls in search of truth, in search of understanding. His personal journey has been painted on a life size canvas for all to see, to hear, to feel. This willingness to be vulnerable and honest in front of the world has touched the lives of so many, touched them in that tender place, that place that when you allow yourself to go there makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and just cry, cry, cry. It is that same place that also stirs you from the safety of sleep and makes you believe in yourself, in your fellow man, and in life again.

What can we learn from such an artist? What can we learn about humanity from what he has given to the world? Most of life is lived posturing, pretending, trying to be something we are not, presenting a front that is “greater” than what lives inside of us. We try so hard to run from those things that live at the heart of our humanity and live stoic lives of quiet desperation in an effort to maintain and support some unwritten rule that says true feelings are not allowed. They are not appropriate. They are not politically, socially, emotionally correct. This is why we embalm our dead, dress them in their best outfit, surround them with flowers and cry softly into our Kleenex as people say, “death is a part of life”, “he’s in a better place”... This is not living! Where is the raw passion? Where is the “surrender” to natural desire and emotion? Why can’t we too live in that place that brings us together and closer to our humanity rather than isolating one another at the times we need honest human connection the most?

“You can’t shut off the risk and the pain” without losing the possibility for human connection. It is connection we are all searching for and connection we all push away. When someone like Springsteen sings about all those things we have tucked down deep inside of us, the bells of truth begin to ring. We know there is truth. We know therein lies our secrets, our desires, our pains. We know in our darkest of hours, “when all the answers they don’t amount to much”, we are not alone. We have been touched by someone else who has taken a chance at giving it all away. That is life saving. That is the “human touch”.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Highway Patrolman

#79 Highway Patrolman by Bruce Springsteen

“Franky ain’t no good”. How often do we hear: A man who kills is bad, but a soldier fighting for his country is good? How simple those words are, falling way short of any understanding of the complexity and experience of human behavior.

Joe, however, can see something more to Franky than just the oats he’s sewn. The power of his blood ties redeem Franky over and over again offering him grace when the world has run dry of forgiveness. Part of Franky lives inside Joe and Joe’s “goodness” has also lived in his brother. It is this bond that allows Joe to set aside his role, his defined, superficial status, and retain a piece of his humanity, the humanity both he and Frankie were born with and both struggle to keep.

When the rest of the world has written someone like Franky off, he is still lovable to his brother, his own blood. Joe’s love for Franky redeems not only his brother and himself but the human race as well. This kind of love sees above everything convoluted we call life and down into the deep wells of human motivations and actions. It strips bare a soul longing to make sense of the world he was forced to face and gives him a second chance, and a third, and a fourth…

Don’t we all long to be loved that way?

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

#78 Highway 29 by Bruce Springsteen

A man weary of life gives way to the chase giving permission for the dark voices of his soul to rise, to converge, and to have their way with him. He has lost sight of the land before or beneath him. Feeling he has no choice left but to surrender to the desperation, to the howling ghosts within, to the madness that comes to us all in various disguises, the madness that is the inevitable outcome of running away from the ache that lives inside those born into life paying for another’s mistakes, he frees himself to their forces and welcomes them with the complete awareness that there is only one way it will end for him.

The realization of his life deal gone rancid, drives him down into the trenches of the cold decay of humanity, where actions have no consequence, where the numbing of one’s mind, body, and soul is the only way to shut off the pain and leaves no room for empathy of another’s, where dreams are lost and never returned, where hope’s light has no voice. He is left believing he would be better off dead, a lonely, liberating, and final journey away from sin and pain.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, December 4, 2009

#77 Held Up Without A Gun by Bruce Springsteen

“How can a poor man stand such times and live?”

To be poor in America couldn’t be described any clearer than as being “held up without a gun”. Every day it just gets harder and harder. Someone is always taking from them what they don’t already have. Buying the necessities of life – food, clothing, and unfortunately gas – feels like you’re getting robbed. A lot of take and very little give.

Springsteen also doesn’t fail to recognize the artist’s plight. In a culture that does not recognize art or the pursuit of passions as “practical” ways to make a living (until you become super famous of course then you can turn out art whenever you feel like it – whether it’s good or crap and maintain a more than decent lifestyle), artists are forced to compromise, to depend on the society’s system of business first, and a piece of their soul slowly dies.

But who cares about soul right? Who cares about passion and creativity and all the stuff that makes being human worthwhile? There are bills to pay and there is money to be made. There are things to buy and people to make rich. So strap on your handcuffs, do what I say and no one gets hurt. Ok well, someone will get hurt, just not me with the pistol in my hand. Go on, what are you waiting for? Do what I say – one wrong move and not even God can help you then…

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Monday, November 30, 2009

#76 Hearts of Stone by Bruce Springsteen

I struggled whether or not to personalize my writing on this song and have decided against it. Therefore, I am struggling to write about it. This may seem like a very vague way to express myself about this song, but I hope I am clear enough so you that you may take the ideas and apply them to your own personal experiences.

Due to my personal experience with this song, I am reminded of the idea of “doing the right thing”. Is “the right thing” always so easily discerned, yet just difficult to face? Or can the right thing be seemingly the wrong thing when it must be done to right another wrong?

If we make a decision in order to save another’s heart at the cost of our own, leaving us with nothing but a “heart of stone”, how can that be doing what is right? Who is it right for? Not for us evidently if it means living the rest of your days unable to love and be loved the way in which we all deserve. And if we are not being true to our own hearts, how can we be true to someone else’s?

I find that most people are insistent on others doing “the right thing” when they benefit most from the outcome, especially emotionally. It is hard to forget our selfish reasons for avoiding change and generously support another in making a difficult decision, even when the decisions they face is theirs alone and one from which they will gain or lose the most.

In the end, we have to live with the choices we make. What is right for one person is not always right for another. No, we can’t return to the past and make things different in order to avoid having to make these life altering decisions, but we can change the present and the future. Becoming less than the person we were will really only cheat ourselves and others out of a full share of the love we have to give.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:


Check out this VERY WELL WRITTEN article on Springsteen in the New York Times:

“While our scholastic education is formal and supervised, our emotional education, the one we glean on our own from artists and musicians, is more important to our long-term happiness.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

#75 Happy by Bruce Springsteen

Even Springsteen’s love songs are sprinkled with the ever present darkness. The conflicting emotion between someone saying how happy they are and the melancholy way in which this song is sung accurately reveals the nature of love.

When the world relentlessly presses us from all sides, when our own individual world comes crashing down on us, our lover is a sanctuary in the storm. When our own inner nemesis comes creeping awake from its slumber, our lover is a lullaby that soothes it to sleep once again.

Being “happy” does not mean that all is right with the world and only moments of joy are to be found. It is not measured by what we have been given or even by our hope. It is neither a cure nor a miracle for our ills. No, happiness is a secure haven for our shame and a refuge from our pain. Happiness in love is a slow, quiet, steady stream of a sweet soothing grace flowing patiently along the ground on which we tread.

Man, Woman, Love are forever at odds with the “cage that’s been handed down the line”, the myths and lies we are told about what a man is, what is woman is supposed to be or do, and what love looks like. We need to break free from those shackles of deceit and embrace and appreciate the love we are given and the love we have to give while we have the chance to give it.

For Complete lyrics visit:

Friday, November 20, 2009

#74 Gypsy Biker by Bruce Springsteen

The obvious fatalities of war – someone’s’ son, someone’s mother, someone’s friend returns home as a body laid out in a flag draped coffin. The less evident fatalities are the soldiers returning home, alive and breathing, but now no longer the person they were. When the “greedy men who rule the world” have taken from them everything they can, they send them home left to wander around the coffin of their minds that barricades them from being the person they once were.

The gypsy biker had an identity – he was a free spirit, maybe somewhat of a rebel. Nothing could tie him down. He was driven to explore the world away from home. He could not stay in one place. This adventurous spirit was robbed. War took from him what he was. He returns home to stay, something he would have never aspired to do. He has no need for the things that used to fuel his fire, such as his beloved bike. He is no longer the same person. He is as good as a dead man – without desire – without the fiery passion he once survived on.

The tragedies of war are endless. They are often invisible to the rest of us. What goes on in the mind and heart of someone who witnessed and participated in the acts of war required of soldiers as well as in the hearts and lives of those they love and who love them, is a bottomless, tattered cavern of emotion that can never be fully repaired.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

#73 Growin’ Up by Bruce Springsteen

It’s a rite of passage passing through adolescence – to question everything – to pull against the crowd. For the first time, in adolescence, we begin to learn about the world outside our own personal world. We have to experience everything for ourselves, even if it means getting burned.

Then when we “grow up”, we somehow stop pulling so hard, we compromise, we give in. There’s a new voice that wakes you up each morning, telling you to get up, shower, go to work, earn the paycheck, do what’s responsible, do what’s acceptable.

When we are young, we are stubborn. We break the rules. No fear. We live like we are invincible. Why can’t we keep a part of that as we get older? That process should never end. We never reach a place where we can say with certainty – I have arrived – I am grown up and there is nothing more for me to learn – there’s no ambivalence in my choices and in my world (although some people would like to believe that about themselves).

We must continue to struggle against the status quo – question authority – question ourselves – stretch our mind – challenge our values – educate ourselves of other cultures much different from our own – expose ourselves to new ideas – ones that make us uncomfortable – only then will we hold onto that passion of our youth that makes life so much more promising - in the never ending, vital process of “growin’ up”.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#72 Good Eye by Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen once again captures the torment of a man living in the dark recesses of his soul. His life’s outlook is spent looking inward at his personal demons. So obsessed is he with his own individual struggles, he neglects to appreciate the things he has reached out for in his outer world, namely riches and love.

Standing alongside the river, he remains free from the healing of and the life offered by the baptismal waters. He doesn’t allow them to penetrate his guilt-ridden shadow of a heart. Unworthy of being made new again, of receiving the grace offered to him in the light, he dives deeper and deeper into the dark caves of his mind, an isolation not without consequence.

The “cold black water”, a reflection of his struggle, carries his hopes and dreams from beneath his grip into the darkness. He follows its promise down to the lake of fear and shame that pools in his inner sanctuary. He keeps his good eye to the darkness, with a heightened sense of self awareness of the thoughts that plague his sensitive heart. He has only known how to live in the darkness – it is his comfort zone, his safety. It is where he finds purpose and meaning, in his struggle to break free. Being taken down deeper and deeper feels like a baptism in its own right, a commencement of the voice of “howling ghost within” (David Gray), his ache to soothe, his cross to bear.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Monday, November 16, 2009

#71 Goin’ Cali by Bruce Springsteen

“Nothin’s hard as / Getting’ free from places / I’ve already been” (Wallflowers)

Our identity tied into, among other things, where we are from as well as the expectations everyone has built for us, and as a result, we build for ourselves from the ignorant eyes of youth. When we are headed down the road of life, it is not uncommon to find we have gone a long way before we realized we are not on the road meant for us. We have to start over, find a whole new country for ourselves, in order to reconnect with what makes us tick, what makes us us, what we really want for ourselves. We need to find that something that we choose, not what has been left for us, something that makes our life worth living, and something that restores our faith, and lets us keep our heart and soul in tact.

We need to burn down the house of our upbringing and build a new one. The “dirty work” of saying goodbye to those old perceptions and rules of our road has to be faced – bite the bullet, rip the band aid, then continue on our way to find our own, perhaps unfamiliar, voice. We learn to let our own voice decide our fate.

This is a lifelong cycle – burn down one house and build another. Unable to completely escape our early attachments and frameworks, we may continually rebuild our house, only to find the satisfaction it feeds us is fleeting. We reach for different tools, work, family, chemical substances, addictions and collections, but the outcome is the same. We build and burn, build and burn all to find that elusive place of peace where we are left with only the voice inside our head, the voice that will drive us to places from which we must one day escape.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Calling Out Sick

I have not been feeling well for the past few days and am giving myself permission for a few days off from writing. When I am better, I will resume where I left off.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day Off

There will be no new post today due to my very busy day. Check in tomorrow for Goin' Cali and Good Eye.

Monday, November 9, 2009

#70 Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen

Watch and Listen Here:

When you graduate from high school, they tell you that those were the best years of your life. Well, for me, I can certainly say that is not true. And it should not be true for everyone else as well. Yes, you had more energy, your talents were climbing toward their peak, your beauty shone just a little brighter, as did that hopeful light in your eye. Times were good and life seemed like it was handmade just for you.

They say that youth is wasted on the young. They have the opportunities and energy to grab hold of whatever dreams dance around their minds, but they have the inexperience to appreciate them or to know what their priorities should be. They don’t see that some day the beauty will fade, the opportunities will cease to knock, and time will pass you by like a runaway train.

We worship youth. We say we revere our elders, but we don’t really. Not in our culture in the good ol’ US of A. We cover magazines and television with the face of the young and bring out the old only for special moments amidst our youth worshipping culture.

It’s time we bring the glory back to those deserving – those who have lived a long life and are still alive – that in itself is worthy of our attention, those who spent their lives devoted to causes greater than themselves, those who put others in front of their own needs, those who raised their children the best way they knew how, those who fight for something they believe in, those who contribute to the heart and soul of the world through their art, who keep striving for something long past their days of youth, those who do not sit idly back and let time pass them by.

By bringing the honor back to life in this way, we glorify all our days, our youth, middle age, and our later years. It is our lives as a whole that should be glorified and reflected on when we “get old..sit[ting] around thinking about it”. While the simpler times of youth will always be missed for their ease of living, those are not the days deserving of glory, it is everything we are and everything we have become and all we have accomplished since our youth that is worthy of such remembrance.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, November 6, 2009

#69 Gloria's Eyes by Bruce Springsteen

Listen here:

When a relationship forms between two people, where either one or both have not experienced a heightened level of self awareness and individual growth, over time, the relationship can be threatened by the progress of one partner’s personal development.

When one person doesn’t grow, they may find over time that what has worked before in a relationship no longer can be the status quo. The developed partner will see their partner in a different light, and will begin to require more from their significant other. What may have once been “charming”, now becomes immature and a hindrance to growth as individuals and as a couple.

It takes developing individual and collective intellect, spirituality, self awareness, and strong principles on which one determines their world views to maintain a relationship, which should gradually change over time. When one realizes they have surpassed their partner in any or all of these areas, they may lose respect and even love for that person.

When the one who does not do anything to enhance their personal development begins to realize this, and they will eventually realize it, they may try hard to win back the love they once were given so easily. They begin to focus on pleasing the other person and trying to bring back “what they once had”. However, if they only realized if they loved themselves enough to develop into a whole, multi-dimensional individual, then they would be a better partner, a better lover, for the one they are with.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

#68 Give the Girl A Kiss by Bruce Springsteen

Watch and Listen here:

Sebastian the crab said it simply and clearly: “My oh my / Look at the boy too shy / He ain’t gonna kiss the girl / Sha-la-la-la-la-la (Hey Bruce likes those words too!) / Ain’t that sad / Ain’t it shame, too bad / You gonna miss the girl”. For those who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, in the Disney cartoon “The Little Mermaid”, the crab, Ariel the mermaid’s version of Jiminy Cricket, sings this song in hopes that the prince will kiss Ariel and break the spell cast on her by the sea’s evil witch.

So what’s the hurry? Well, for Ariel, her prince not sharing a kiss of true love would lead to her ultimate enslavement to the sea witch as one of her “pet” creatures, and any chance at true love would be lost forever. For those of us in the real world, and on land, those sacred moments also exist. No, we will not turn into the slithering snake-like monsters like Flotsam and Jetsam, but we do risk missing out on one of life’s greatest experiences if we don’t push past our fears and show the one we love, well, that we love them.

We do risk, though, becoming “flotsam and jetsam”, in the sense that we may remain forever adrift in a sea of loneliness, enslaved to the world of lost chances. Whether it’s fear, personality, or our culture’s expectations, we can’t let moments pass when we have a chance to express our feelings for someone. That moment could very well be your last chance to say what you feel inside. It’s not about romantic displays of affection, but sincere moments where we let the burning that moves inside of us come out to play. The ones we love need to hear it through words and actions. Whether it’s our children, a significant other, a friend, they all need to hear us say the word L-O-V-E and need to feel it in the way we touch, treat, or talk to them.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

DISCLAIMER: This is a wicked lame post, but I am sick and do not care ;-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#67 Girls In Their Summer Clothes by Bruce Springsteen

Besides being possibly the only rock n’ roll song that uses the name Shaniqua, “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” is a bittersweet story of hope and redemption, an anthem to life’s possibilities. The promises of summertime hold out hope amidst the darkness. A wounded heart lets the effortless world of a summer night carry him through the darkness to where second chances are found.

The night has descended, and he has almost drowned in his pain. But his journey has only just begun. Leaving the isolation of his home, he allows himself to experience the cool, light air of a summer evening. Each girl that passes him by is a reminder that love can be found again. Life, a meaningful one, can still be found after heartache and pain.

However, he once again finds himself in “the darkness on the edge of town”. The pain of losing someone he loved has encircled his heart. He carries the weight of it inside along his journey until he finally, in response to a little kindness, lets it all go. Emboldened by the release of this debilitating heartache and the countless number of possibilities passing by him, he feels “found”. He takes another chance at love, “show[ing] a little faith” in summertime’s promises for he knows all too well “there’s [even] magic in the night”.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

#66 Gave it a Name by Bruce Springsteen

Your poison snake, your father’s genes, your mother’s abuse, your difficult life experiences, the culture that surrounds and pounds you from every which way. We’ve all been touched by the poison of the world outside of our control. Since the day of our birth, the waves of an interdependent reality bombard our shores.

Yet, sometimes we can forget that part of our existence. Who we are and what we do with our lives gets filtered through our own eyes of guilt and shame. We do it to ourselves and we do it to others as well. We become one dimensional, one thing, one awful thing and deem ourselves, or one another, unlovable.

Freedom from this guilt-ridden life lies in “[giving] it a name”, putting some kind of identifying mark on the sins that plague us. It requires diving in deep into the surrounding waters and realizing that we have been touched by a poison, a poison that swims through our bloodstream from birth until the day we die. Of course, we are responsible for what we ultimately choose to do with our actions. But we are not just one thing. We are not just a “wife beater”, a “killer”, a “child molester”, an “adulterer”, we are many more things. It is the poison that has driven us into the darker ways of the world. It is the poison that is never ceasing that leaves us feeling alone, fully responsible, and tossed about believing we only have our own strength and will to save ourselves.

By “[giving] it a name”, this poison inside can begin to lose its power. It can validate us as imperfect human beings, not making excuses for the wrongs we do, but lifting the debilitating shame that rides atop our sins. It can free us from our own inner prison and place us back into the sea of humanity alongside the rest of the world’s struggling souls. And from that place of acceptance, we can begin to heal…

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Monday, November 2, 2009

#65 Galveston Bay by Bruce Springsteen

We all just want the same things: A satisfying job that allows us to support ourselves, A loving spouse, Healthy and happy children, A home to call our own, Something greater than ourselves to live for and believe in. We let so many superficial things divide us. There are these invisible lines called borders that have been drawn that make us feel that what we fight for and what we believe and how we live is somehow superior to those across the border. They create within us ideas about differences that do not really exist. When people from other countries come to our own, we look at them as invaders of our land. When in reality the land is as much theirs as it is ours. Prejudices are fed to the point that their lives become less important than false ideas.

I was listening to someone being interviewed recently about their experience in a space shuttle. They said that when you look down at the earth from that far, there are no lines. The earth is one gem in the universe connected by water and land. There are no differences from that high. Texas looks the same as Vietnam. And Iraq is no different than Washington D.C. Our inability to see the world in this way shows us how far removed we are from God and his way of loving. We cannot step outside of ourselves and our own interests and embrace our brothers and sisters who are no different than our own family members.

What good is a world so divided?

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, October 30, 2009

#64 Further On (Up the Road) by Bruce Springsteen

This song is a perfect example of how Springsteen’s sense of hopefulness is always mixed with realism. This is one of the things that appeals to me about his music. He doesn’t forget where he’s been and where others are when they come to meet him. He sees the streets of life lined with the beauty life brings as well as the pain, and he does not deny any of it.

He, instead, gives voice to those experiences, and by doing that, connects all of us on some level. By doing this, he takes the power out of the ache and increases the pleasure of our elations. Like us, he’s moving along the crooked path doing what he knows how to do, hoping that in the end, there is something better, for himself, his family, and for each one of us.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

#63 From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come) by Bruce Springsteen

Let’s call her Mary. Hell, why not? Mary was born with a fire in her belly. She had her sights set high above the top rung of her personal ladder. She found love, and had a family, but that wasn’t enough for her fast blood. To her own detriment, she chased the stars that twinkled out of the sign she was born under. As life went from bad to worse, she still somehow believed she was destined for something bigger than what she was.

Mary never realized that destiny. Her fire burned out of control, and she lost her chance at seeing any of her dreams realized. But she was right about one thing: “From Small Things Big Things One Day Come”. Though she wasn’t equipped with the ability to “be something in this world” or even to have a healthy, lasting relationship, she produced something more beautiful than the spinning stars she pursued. Her children, born of her fire, but raised in the loyal arms of their father, will become something or someones whom Mary can be assured are the greatest treasures she could have ever hoped to discover.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#62 Frankie by Bruce Springsteen

Can broken hearts dare to dream again? Dreaming, loving, having faith that some day we’ll find “a world I can call mine” takes courage. When someone’s life is filled with broken dreams, fear, apathy, and a sense of futility can all begin to take hold. Frankie’s lover is someone who is daring to dream again. The love he found in Frankie has given him the courage to try once more for something magical, something meaningful.

The night they spend together he wants to be free of reservation and free of shame for their status in life. He wants to tear the teeth off his fears of not being good enough and not deserving something better than what he has been given. People who have more money, power, position, can sometimes make those who don’t feel foolish for thinking they can “belong” too. But Frankie’s lover does not want to belong. He wants something even more than what they got. His dreams require bigger chances, greater risks.

But the fear that these dreams will not be realized, that they will be somehow taken from him, as elusive as “the stars…on the screen”, still lingers within him. He tells Frankie to “walk softly tonight little stranger / …into these shadows we’re passing through / Talk softly tonight, little angel”. If no one can see or hear his dreams, then no one can take them away. He does not courageously shout his longings from the rooftops, but rather whispers them in the quiet desperation of their night together, a night that has made him believe again, in himself, in another, and in life’s possibilities.

That is the power only found in the gracious hand of love…

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#61 For You by Bruce Springsteen

This song made me think of the movie “Forrest Gump”. Forrest loved Jenny with an innocent childlike, love. She loved Forrest, too, mostly because of how he loved her. As she grew restless, she went out in the world to experience life, to chase the “roar”, and became involved with all kinds of new demons, demons that played and danced soft and slow with the ones she grew up with from her abusive childhood. Her journey from their simple friendship of youth has been traveled down a deep well. Forrest’s “simple” love she could no longer accept. She did not feel clean enough for his pure love.

Though his love was “simple”, it was strong. It never wavered. It was unconditional. He came for Jenny over and over again. She couldn’t chase him away with her fears and self loathing. She couldn’t loosen its grip. He tells her, in essence, that he does not expect her to be who she was, but he knows she is more than she is now. He has seen her heart. He has been down her “black ladder”, and he loves her still. He came for who she is and always has been and for everything that comes with her.

But no matter how strong, or how persistent his love was, he could not save his Jenny. She saw the value in his love and though she couldn’t claim it for herself, she gifted it to their son. She had lost hold of his kind of love too long ago…

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Monday, October 26, 2009

#60 Fire by Bruce Springsteen

Just because you’re feelin’ it, doesn’t mean she is. It’s sort of like the most complained about sexual issue, where the man gets caught up in his pleasure and forgets his partner is not experiencing the same thing, possibly not even close to the same thing as he is. Just because you’re burning hot inside for someone does not make them obligated or even more likely to return the flames. Take a hint – get a clue – if she says no – if she says she’s not into you, then she’s not. It’s not her love she’s denying – it’s yours.

Deep Thoughts by Lenore B.:
I think the "fire" he feels must be an STD....maybe that's why she doesn't want to fool around”.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, October 23, 2009

#59 Fade Away by Bruce Springsteen

In my absence, today’s song “Fade Away” will be discussed by a very talented guest writer and poet, Lenore B. Unaware of much of Springsteen’s music throughout her life, Lenore has recently come to appreciate and realize the heights and depths of his catalog. Her newfound appreciation and love of lyrics will be a valued contribution to discussing this song, and others in the days to come. Thank you Lenore for your role in helping keep this blog and Springsteen fans focused on the ideas and themes of Springsteen’s Music.

Again, as I will be away, I will not be posting this weekend. Please return on Monday for the next song, “Fire”.

Written by Lenore B. – “Fade Away”:

If the bitch wants to go, then let her go. She's obviously hooking up with someone else anyway.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

#58 Factory by Bruce Springsteen

The first thing that comes to mind is the old bumper sticker, t-shirt slogan, whatever it was: “Life sucks and then you die”. Any human, who lives their life “working for the pain”, working just to survive, which is most of us, knows the anguish of the same routine day after day. Nothing about it feeds your soul. Instead, it steals from you. It steals your fire, your passion, your energy, your compassion.

“Working Life” is almost an oxymoron. A life spent working for someone else, the best years of your life, is no life at all. Oh sure there’s the evenings and weekends when we’re allowed some quality time with family and friends. When we’re just too darn tired and disillusioned to love them the way we want to. When we’re just too stressed and too drained to use the time to develop our talents and our passions.

I’m all for reform. We live our life backwards – all work and little relaxation. You can’t even have a baby, unless you are wealthy, and enjoy the first few months of their life. Everything we do revolves around work. It even determines where we live. Instead of building a life and then working to support it. We work and develop a life that accommodates it. Something just isn’t right.

Check out this article on a slight alternative (though still not good enough):

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

#57 Empty Sky by Bruce Springsteen

As a track off of The Rising CD, the easiest image to call to mind, especially for us Americans, is that of the literal empty New York skyline after a tragic day in the history of the U.S., 9/11. Springsteen’s ability to see past boundaries and through to the connection between all of us humans is never more evident than in this song. The emotions of loss manifested through sadness and rage immediately take us inward to our own feelings about what happened that day.

Just when the sense of loss has reached its peak through the connection of blood, one of our own is gone, a piece of us has died, Springsteen flies us across the world to the “plains of Jordan”, where the same grief lives inside someone’s mother, wife, brother, or friend, where the word “terrorist” does not define the loved one they lost.

That same sense of emptiness defies any definition of good and evil. It connects the hearts of strangers from a “strange” land whose seemingly incomprehensible way of seeing the world and whose sense of duty does not really differ from our own. Their pain and their sacrifice is no less than ours. The same sense of ambivalence about honor and duty, the same sadness and anger over a life lost, the same questions about life and death, carve out an “empty sky” for all of our human family across the world.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

#56 Dry Lightning by Bruce Springsteen

Amidst a painting of a dry, somber, Midwestern landscape, Springsteen delivers the heart of a man in the midst of his grief. He took a chance at love, and now she is gone. His loneliness’ only company is “dry lightning on the horizon”, like a distant promise filled with mystery and danger.

Nearing apathy, he goes about his life driven by her memory. He allowed himself to give away all he had to another, and she left him with nothing but reminders of what he had and what he lost. The dry lightning lights up the sky like some kinds of divine promise, but there is a drought on the land, and now, because he has loved and lost, there will remain forever a drought in his heart.

This is the scary part of love, allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough so that you can love and receive the love of someone else, but also so that when that love is lost, a solemn ache remains. But she is ultimately not what he needs. She had told him “ain't nobody gonna give nobodywhat they really need anyway”. She gave him only some of what he needed and now he needs to look to the horizon, to something greater than earth and sky, greater than a human touch, to make his life complete.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Monday, October 19, 2009

#55 Drive All Night by Bruce Springsteen

Drive All Night is a pleading from one lover to another asking them to break away from the chains holding them down and to join them in the chase of life’s burning flame. One lover is drowning in the poison of their fate, giving up on life and love. She’s found her place amongst “fallen angels” and those “crying defeat”, perhaps because of addiction or depression. She has surrendered herself to their world and will ride destiny’s waves as they come.

Her lover, though, is determined to break away from his life sentence. He sees something worth fighting for, and he has the strength to carry her along for a while. He will “buy her some shoes”, or give her a bit of what he’s got so that she can break free too. He wants his love to be strong enough for the both of them, strong enough to combat any forces they come up against.

Sadly, though, while love is strong, it is sometimes not enough. He cannot save her. She needs to save herself. She needs to kindle the slow burning flame inside her own heart before she can ignite her passions with the love of another. His love, though, will not let him leave her behind. He will drive down that road as long as it takes for her to return with him. He refuses to go it alone. He feels there is nothing left for him to lose, and he will risk falling back into the darkness for a chance at love.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anniversary Weekend

My goal was 267 songs in 267 days, 267 consecutive days. However, this weekend is my 5th Wedding Anniversary and I want to spend the weekend just enjoying that along with my husband. Therefore, I am giving myself permission for a weekend off! I will next post on Monday 10/19/09. Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 16, 2009

#54 Downbound Train by Bruce Springsteen

Trains, as a common motif in Springsteen’s lyrics, carry all kinds of passengers aboard, often headed for something greater than the lives we presently live. The train is supposed to take us somewhere, somewhere beyond the dark horizon line. While aboard, our sins and blemishes get washed away by the touch of grace, and we will arrive newly born.

Sometimes, though, that feels like a dream. To believe that some day we will not carry the weights that presently hold us down, feels like another lie in a world handing out lies like popsicles in summertime. Sometimes our depths of shame and life’s circumstances can get so dark and the light inside of us nearly extinguished, that it feels like this train is going nowhere but down, and fast. The pain becomes ingrained so deep inside of us that we cannot even escape it in our dreams.

And even for those not so inclined, in one last moment of desperation, when any final drops of hope we have left are at last shattered, we “drop to [our] knees and cr[y]”. We look beyond the world in front of us hoping there’s a driver to the train will take us somewhere beyond our sinking sea. We plea for just one act of mercy, one moment of release. And if there is no grace to be found from outside ourselves, some of us will jump off the train and others will stay on the track and sink far down below where colors fade to black.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

#53 Don’t Look Back by Bruce Springsteen

The idea of not looking back makes me think of the story of Lot’s wife. Looking back at what they were leaving behind was forbidden. Their hearts were supposed to be where they were going not longing for the wicked world they were running away from.

When you’re born with the “deck stacked” against you, escape, transcendence, whatever you want to call it, is next to impossible. It takes a lot more than just desire and determination to escape an all consuming world. Chance, luck, someone to help you along the way – any one of these things can help take someone out of one reality and place them in another.

Unlike Lot’s wife, the temptation is to not look back. The temptation is to ride the freedom train as far away as possible and prove to the rest of the world that you can make it too. You are going to “even the score”. But looking back may not be such a bad idea.

Of course, you do not look back in longing for the difficult life you have lived. But you can look back, back at those left behind, back at where you came from and remember the pain and the agony of just trying to survive, whatever your circumstances may have been. Looking back in this way will allow you to maintain a flow of empathy and suspend judgment for your fellow human beings who cannot escape as you have done.

It will allow you to return to a place where humanity is at its most fragile and desperate, and now that it no longer has its grip on you, allow you to fight for others with understanding and compassion. You can take what you’ve been given and loosen the chains for someone else.

There’s an expression: If you want to move forward, you’ve got to go back. This is usually used to express the need for looking into our personal histories to find what is blocking us from growing in our present life. It can also mean that if you want to live a meaningful existence, if you want to “make a difference”, if you want to transcend your own needs and desires, you need to look back. You need to look back at those left behind and lend them your strength and courage. Lend them your voice. And some, if only a few, can ride along aside you down those “tracks through the blazing rain”.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

#52 Dollhouse by Bruce Springsteen

There is a scene in the movie “American Beauty” where the main character and his wife are about to get intimate on their sofa. They’ve been drifting apart for some time and no longer have any place at which they connect with each other. As they get closer to breaking a long built barrier, his wife tells him not to spill the glass he is holding on the sofa. “Jesus Christ”, he yells, “it’s just a couch”. She proceeds to tell him how expensive it is and any chance of intimacy rekindled is lost.

Society tells us that marriage equals a storybook wedding, a house, two cars or a minivan when the kids come along and there should be kids, dogs, cats, drapes, shower curtains and for a lucky some an inground pool.

Pursuing those things is a welcoming distraction. The work it takes to build the physical part of our life is easier than the work it takes building our emotional and spiritual worlds. It is easier and safer to stay in one place. Fear of growth or of change shows itself in the empty pursuits of everything but personal growth and leaves one feeling a constant void. Instead of chasing that void and discovering what and why it is, we chase instead things that can be easily fixed. If everything is in its place and everything as it should be on the outside, then I’ll feel right on the inside. But we never do.

The longer life is lived in avoidance of facing our own demons and fears and building ourselves a meaningful understanding of ourselves and the world, the more we risk losing, and the more we become a product of our own making. We veer further from anything real toward a plastic life. We become what we think we’re “supposed” to be rather than who we really are. We risk losing the love of those around us, because a doll cannot love themselves and, therefore, cannot love anyone else.

Following are Lyrics to Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”

Her green plastic watering can / For her fake Chinese rubber plant / In the fake plastic earth. / That she bought from a rubber man / In a town full of rubber plans / To get rid of itself. / It wears her out, it wears her out / It wears her out, it wears her out./

She lives with a broken man / A cracked polystyrene man / Who just crumbles and burns. / He used to do surgery / For girls in the eighties / But gravity always wins. / And it wears him out, it wears him out. / It wears him out, it wears . . ./

She looks like the real thing / She tastes like the real thing / My fake plastic love. / But I can't help the feeling / I could blow through the ceiling / If I just turn and run. / And it wears me out, it wears me out. / It wears me out, it wears me out. /

And if I could be who you wanted / If I could be who you wanted / All the time, all the time. / Oh, oh.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#51 Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street?

Like an early, undeveloped version of Land of Hope and Dreams, “Does this Bust Stop at 82nd Street? carries the lost souls of the world. They’re all headed somewhere and all are welcome aboard. Their journey is wild and filled with promises, ambition, dreams, love, betrayal, and uncertainty. Why do they continue on? What keeps them riding along? Hope. They will arrive some day to the place they’ve been running towards their whole lives, the place they can only dare to dream of – where the last shall be first. Their day will come.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Monday, October 12, 2009

#50 Devils and Dust

It’s Monday night. I had the day off, and the last thing I want to do is be forced to write about another song. I love these songs, so why is it so much work? Why is it becoming painful to do, especially on the weekends? I’m thinking I shouldn’t have devoted myself to one song per day. But I did, and Devils and Dust is one of those brilliant Springsteen songs that deserves so much to be said about it. I will not do it justice. I won’t pretend that I will:

Once again, Springsteen embodies the tortured soul of another. He places himself in the mind of one who experiences a life separate from his own. He captures the beating heart of a soldier risking everything for a purpose greater than himself but conflicted by what that experience has done to him deep inside. The things that made him who he is up until now will fade away and a new fear will take hold, fear that what he has done, what he has sacrificed has been for naught.

Your heart and soul turned to “devils and dust”, opened to evil and emptiness. Like a tumbleweed blowing down a desert road, so are the souls of those who face unfathomable decisions of life and death. Young men and women at war forced to decide someone else’s fate, and then left to be at war with themselves for the rest of their days.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

#49 Devil's Arcade by Bruce Springsteen

Even when you win, you lose. Like paying twenty dollars in quarters to win at an arcade game where your prize is worth maybe fifty cents, war is a game that cannot be won. Whether that war is fought on foreign soil between soldiers or on the streets between young men caught in the game of drugs and survival, what is at risk is greater than anything that can be won. They are all pawns in a much larger game where there are no rules and no fair play.

Somebody will benefit, but not those who risk everything, not those who will experience the greatest loss. The chips are stacked against them. If they manage to save their bodies, a large part of who they are will not be saved. When all is said and done, for them only faith, or “something like faith” remains.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

#48 Dead Man Walkin’ by Bruce Springsteen

This is one of those songs that overwhelms me to write about. Springsteen’s gift for tapping into the dark recesses of another’s soul is rarely more evident than it is in this story.

“Between our dreams and actions lies this world” sums up beautifully the all too common tragic story of a life lost. A baby is born and dreams are built. His mother holds him and looks into his eyes seeing all the possibilities of his future. But no one is free to grow independent of the world’s cruel mysteries. The battle against internal and external demons sometimes leads to surrender. Shame, guilt, and fear take our inborn sense of our own divinity quickly shatters our belief in even our humanity.

These souls are dead long before they are in the ground. There is no love, no grace for the dead. Anything they do to harm themselves does not matter. They do not feel worth saving. They are their sins. They are their pain. They live life waiting for the day they can finally be free from the ghosts in their veins that have haunted them all their lives. They can only find some small sliver of hope that the grace they did not receive in life will embrace them in death.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, October 9, 2009

#47 Darlington County by Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen playfully tells about a coming of age story. Two young friends, in the foolish overconfidence and naivety of youth take a stab at responsibility and “romance”. They don’t make much of a splash in the crowded city, so they think their luck will change in Darlington County. New places and new faces hold so much promise in their young eyes.

They check out the girls on the corner, hoping to make some kind of impression. Wayne skips out on work and disappears for a few days, no doubt drunk off of his newfound freedom. The game of life was bigger than he expected. It bites him in the ass and he winds up arrested.

The narrator, though, keeps working hard. He goes to work each day but keeps searching for some “little girl” to make a connection with. But he begins to grow up and realize there’s even more to be had than days of work and nights of romance. He wants a deeper relationship with the girl he’s with and wants to experience something beyond the horizon.

Darlington County was not where life was leading these boys. It was not the end of the line. It was just a step in their process of maturing and coming into their own. It was that thin line where choices can be made and lives can be lost or saved.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

#46 Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen

The darkness lives inside all of us. Only some, though, live their lives inside of the dark walls that surround them from within. Sometimes the pain of living is just too unbearable for fragile hearts. The secrets of their life tucked down deep inside of them do not ever sleep. They thrash around in the daylight and haunt them in the night.

Some would have these struggling souls believe that they have erred in allowing their demons to control their life. They would tell them that it is what they think about and dwell on that makes their life difficult – they just need to live in the sunshine – think positive – think yourself into denial and life can be good. Reach for some external source of fulfillment and you can be happy.

When your relationship with the darkness is as old as you are, you know the pain living there can bring. Once you’ve lived there, it’s nearly impossible to live anywhere, anyway else. You can’t. You don’t want to. There are certain realizations about life that can only be found by wrestling with the darkness. The struggle itself is what feeds and fulfills you. The anguish, the tears, the confusion all must be faced. The lonely road must be taken. You must feed it and beat it until it loosens a little of its grip, a little of its hold on you. Then you must go after it again and again.

The darkness will tear you up and spit you out. But it will spit you out, out on the line where “dreams are found and lost”, where you will either let it take away from all you have left or where you will find new meaning and understanding in your life’s journey. Take from it – use it. The changes it brings could not have been found on any other pathway. You will look back and know you went where you had to go to get where you are.

Then some day the darkness will call again…and to it you will knowingly return.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#45 Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen

“Dancing in the Dark” – there’s no better way to describe living. We keep going despite problems. We keep living and moving forward not knowing for certain what our life means. We “keep on keepin’ on” as they say. The longer we live, the more puzzle pieces are put into place. But even then, it’s a million piece puzzle and we’ve maybe found only the corner pieces.

Something in us tells us there’s something bigger to be experienced. We don’t know what that is, but we can feel it out there. We reach for it through connections, with people, experiences, and magical moments, giving us just enough of a spark to fuel us for a little while. When that spark burns out, we reach again. We hunger, we starve, for something more, because nothing satiates that empty ache inside. We keep on dancing not knowing exactly where we are or who or what is dancing with us.

What do you keep on dancing for?
For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#43 and #44 Crush on You and Cynthia by Bruce Springsteen

We all know those kinds of girls. There’s the girl in Crush On You who every young guy dreams about. She’s the girl they all have a crush on but don’t have the courage to tell. She’s pretty and …well she’s pretty. She can be bland, she can be mean, she can be anything, but she’s pretty, so she becomes the fantasy. But that is usually all she becomes. And as young men mature, slowly but surely, a piece of her may always remain somewhere in their fantasy world, but their desire for her wanes. She fulfilled all she could, and there’s not enough of her to fulfill what a grown man needs. But until then, she’s got them by the…..neck.

Big fish in a little pond. That’s the type of girl embodied in Cynthia. She’s not the best looking girl around, but she’s all there is, so she’s going to get the attention. No one takes her seriously, but in a world where there’s not much to live for, she give the boys something to look forward to. She pretends not to notice, but she enjoys the attention just as much as they enjoy giving it. In their small world, the chance for some small, if meaningless, connection, is what they’re all looking for.

For Complete Lyrics Visit: and

Monday, October 5, 2009

#42 Cross My Heart by Bruce Springsteen and Sonny Boy Williamson

Listen here:

“I cross my heart and hope to die” we said as children, as our way of solidifying the certainty of whatever we promised or whatever we wanted accepted as truth. We crossed our hearts and we were believed. As the night descends, however, what was so simple in the light of youth, becomes shrouded in shadow and maybes.

Life is seemingly lived easier when lines are clearly drawn. People are good or bad. Actions are right or wrong. A promise is as good as done. There’s no room for error. The dividing line is thickly painted, and you just have to choose a side. But then a time comes, when that yin and yang, black and white cookie cutter life you’ve been living stops making sense. You find yourself staring down the well of mystery of “them spaces in between” and everything you’ve believed begins to shake loose piece by piece, crumbles of conviction and confidence crashing at your weary feet.

Now what are you supposed to do? Nothing is what it seems. Everything is something else. What truth do you grab onto? Promises have been broken, ones we have made and ones made to us, over and over again. As much as we want to be certain, not just of others and the world around us, but of ourselves, our intentions, our promises, the most we can do is to do our best. The best we can do is to not allow ourselves to be rear ended by the gray train with doubt and uncertainty at the clutch. Instead, we need to be aboard the gray train, and from there only can we see everything, good and bad, as a possibility. Dreams can still live on this ride, they just twist and turn along the tracks instead of crashing and burning out of existence.

Knowing that nothing is black and white, and nothing is as simple as it seems, leaves just one road with many paths to take, life’s hard road to each of our own personal satisfaction…whatever that may look like – I can guarantee it’s not what we plan, not what we measure, nor expect.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

#41 Cover Me by Bruce Springsteen

For those of us who have someone to spend our weekends and evenings with, someone to escape life’s hard times with, we are the lucky ones. For those who have to face this world and then a life at home alone, life is a long lonely road. A life spent with someone who can be that shelter, that comfort to you makes the difficult parts of life worth going through and easier to face. That is what we should be to each other – a hiding place – a healing room – a sanctuary set apart from the storm of pain raging outside our windows.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

#40 County Fair by Bruce Springsteen

When you are young, the spirit of a carnival or fair holds so much promise. The air is filled with lights and music. The nights are long and simple fun and games are saturated with magical possibilities. Young love fills your heart. Laughter comes easy. The taste of cotton candy and caramel apples satisfies without threat. Summer will never end and daylight never will call you awake again to face dusty streets and littered fields of someone else’s plan for you.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, October 2, 2009

#39 Countin’ on a Miracle by Bruce Springsteen

Isn’t pretty much everything we do and everything we want and have and believe like “countin’ on a miracle”? Life is so fragile and so many things can change our life in an instant. People come in and out of our lives, chance encounters that alter the course of our life. Our dreams and desires are subject to the laws of the universe, whatever you may believe those are. Even if you believe in fate, it’s still a miracle to find what you want because what are the chances that fate and desire will fall in line?

When someone we love dies, we’re at the mercy of an even greater, uncertain miracle. Where are they? Will we see them again? Will we have our love again? Even if we believe in something with near certainty – heaven, hell, paradise, death is the end all – we can still be left with a sense of helplessness, knowing there is little we can do to determine our ultimate fate. Doubts chase you from youth until death. What if at the end of our lives our life and our love comes to nothing but dust and ashes? What is guaranteed? What is for certain? Nothing…here’s to hope and faith…

Thursday, October 1, 2009

#38 Code of Silence by Bruce Springsteen and Joe Grushecky

During this last Presidential Campaign, amidst the rigmarole, usual rhetoric, and excitement over the possibilities of a Black or Female president, once again, a voice was silenced. Once again, the voice of millions was not heard, not through one politician’s lips, not even the most liberal among them. While everyone talked about Middle America and Wealthy America, no one talked about Poor America, Poverty America, I can’t feed my children America, Last Night another Child was Shot Outside our House America. No one mentioned what needed to be done to help the poor. The left appealed to the middle class while the right protected the rich. It was a war between two groups while a third sat by the ring helplessly.

Middle class America – we give lip service to ideals about equality, yet we don’t want to give up what we have. We throw anger at the rich for taking more than they need, while we greedily protect our standard of living. We take for granted that we’re supposed to own a home, two cars, and send our kids off to college and have money for retirement – isn’t that what Obama listed as the values he wanted to protect for Voting America? There are families who are so far removed from these ideals, they are not even the beginnings of a dream or an inkling in their hearts.

We complain, bitch, and moan, but in the end, we must like it this way. We like the safety of our nest in the middle. Otherwise we would have spoken out, we would have demanded change. We know what the problems of America and the world are, we just think that we can live in denial of them while we “get ours”. What can one person do? We now have a democratic majority and a seemingly somewhat liberal Black President in the White House, and nothing has or will change anytime soon. And we just keep pressing on without pause…

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Bonus: Chimes of Freedom by Bob Dylan

Chimes of Freedom was not written by Springsteen, therefore it will not take a number in my 267 song line-up. However, Springsteen’s version of this Dylan song is so incredibly powerful and perfect, that the song deserves mention in the midst of Springsteen’s writings.

I took an American Literature class where we had to write about an American poet. I chose Bob Dylan. Not Springsteen? I totally would have chosen Springsteen, but he was not listed in our Literature book, so Dylan it was. We also had to explicate two of their poems/songs. I am including an excerpt of my paper here where I analyzed the words to Chimes of Freedom.

“Chimes of Freedom” is one of Dylan’s socio-political songs set on a spiritual landscape. His imagery takes the plight of the oppressed in the earthly realm and frees them in the spiritual. Often labelled as an anti-war song, the message is that freedom cannot be won through any of society’s institutions, but only through spiritual deliverance. Each and every person is born free, but has been pressed down and chained by human greed and injustice. Through vivid imagery and an appeal to visual and audio sensory, Dylan conveys this message:

Far between sundown's finish an' midnight's broken toll / We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing / As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds / Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing / Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight / Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight / An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night / An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

“Far between sundown’s finish and midnight’s broken toll” sets the stage in the evening, when the lights cast upon the world are extinguished and the darkest part of night has descended. The darkest part of human existence is upon us. Dylan introduces the metaphor he uses throughout the entire song. The elements of a thunderstorm, thunder, bolts, lightening, flashing, crashing, are used to convey what will bring about true freedom. The power of a thunderstorm is great and cannot be contended with. The heavenly references make the “chimes of freedom” something unearthly, greater than any democracy or system of government humans have set up, something humans have not accomplished. Whether these chimes are God, Nature, some other great natural force operating in the universe, or the banding together of humanity to fight injustice, they are the key to unlocking the shackles on those beaten down by life’s oppressive forces. Soon, the bells of freedom will toll throughout the world.

Those fighting for true freedom are not the politicians and world leaders waging war, but rather the silent protesters, the “warriors whose strength is not to fight”. When this song was written, in 1964, civil rights and anti-war sentiment was strong in the air. The idea of passive resistance, and using peaceful means to achieve peace was new. But Dylan was singing about more than integrating schools and bringing troops home. He knew true freedom was greater than those things.

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched / With faces hidden while the walls were tightening / As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain / Dissolved into the bells of the lightning / Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake / Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked / Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake / An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

The city life is so far removed from what is natural that it squeezes us from every angle, melting away our dreams and ideals. Thus is the life of the poor, luckless, forsaken people in the world. The wedding bells represent a new beginning. A new beginning is coming from “the lightening” or from a cause larger than any that has ever been fought for – true freedom. The tolling signals a great event taking place. More people are included – rebel, rake, luckless, etc…. Freedom is coming for all of these people.

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail / The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder / That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze / Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder / Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind / Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind / An' the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time / An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

The “mad mystic hammering” is a spiritual purpose being worked out.
The imagery just gets better and more intense in this verse. “The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder” is a beautiful metaphor to describe the awe-inspiring forms nature takes. The storm reveals the power and wonder of its creator.

Here Dylan takes a gentle stab at religion. The “clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze”. The churches, religions, or institutions of the world do not offer true freedom. Instead, they restrict it. They will be done away with and replaced by something higher.

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales / For the disrobed faceless forms of no position / Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts / All down in taken-for-granted situations / Tolling for the deaf an' blind, tolling for the mute / Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute / For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an' cheated by pursuit / An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

There’s more religious imagery seen in a negative context. The “disrobed faceless forms of no position” are all those in the political, religious, or secular world who have used their position for greed and exploitation. They will be disrobed. Their power will be taken from them. The chimes continue to toll for those who cannot speak for themselves, those who turn away from the problems of the world, and those who feel isolated from family or community.

Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed / An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting / Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones / Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting / Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail / For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale / An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail / An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

When the storm seems to be over, in a “far-off corner”, and the mist has been lifted, the chimes will continue to strike to make sure no one is left behind. Usually when something ends or leaves, something or someone is left behind. Not this time. The “Electric light” will strike “like arrows”, killing any remaining piece of injustice and setting free even those who seem to be condemned, the drifters, the “lonesome-hearted lovers”, those in the earthly prisons.

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught / Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended / As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look / Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended / Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed / For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse / An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe / An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

“Starry-eyed an’ laughing” gives the image of someone feeling a deep level of happiness, like lovers in a new relationship. True happiness can only come with true freedom. “Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended” represents the path of restriction and oppression lived by those who Dylan lists in this song. It will be taken away from them, and they will soon seen their freedom delivered by the hands of something or someone greater than can be seen. When people are overtaken by something majestic, they are “spellbound” and have no conscious feeling of the passing of time”. The last few lines encompass anyone else left out. The chimes will toll for everyone, not just a select few.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

#37 Cautious Man

Love takes risk. Being vulnerable and surrendering our power to another person’s hands means facing fear. Hedging our bets and counting the costs will only keep us isolated from the beauty shared love can give. A life lived with caution, each step measured, leads to an empty place, “nothing but road”. It’s not going anywhere but toward loneliness and emptiness. Love will cover any stains we bare and love’s grace will set us free from fear.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#36 Car Wash

The ballad of my life on my 30th's to not singing it on my 40th!

Well my name is Erin C.
I work at the temp office on State
I stumble in each morning
Some time way past eight

Well I work down at the office
A constant waste of my time
My boss don’t understand it
How it makes me cold inside
Sit at my desk staring at the screen
add up the numbers one by one
Pushing the papers all around
Until I’m all but gone

One day I’m going to write a story
About all this wasted time
Someone will notice this light inside
And say don't waste anymore life

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Monday, September 28, 2009

#35 Candy’s Room by Bruce Springsteen

You’ve got to go through the darkness to discover the light. Candy’s room is that place that holds dark secrets and the things that go bump in the night. You need to let the darkness have its way with you. You can’t wish it away with mantras or positive thinking. You can’t buy its pacification. You’ve got to face it, take it, and own the darker forces within. Only then can you conquer the fear, the pain, and the sadness.

You “got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight” – U2 –

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

#34 Cadillac Ranch by Bruce Springsteen

Death comes for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. All the money, beauty, and fame in the world can’t save you. The image of a Cadillac Ranch where these fancy cars are buried with their fancy asses sticking up in the air, and their noses buried six feet underground reminds us of the futility of a live lived in pursuit of excess and riches.
Even something, or someone, as exquisite as a Cadillac is going to face its final day.

The car is going to face a time when nothing can be done to keep it running. Every human faces a time, that no matter what they’ve done to extend or improve their lives, they’re going to shut down completely and forever. Even if a Cadillac can afford a fancier resting place, it’s still long gone and buried like every other car in the junkyard.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

#33 Brothers Under the Bridges (’83) by Bruce Springsteen

There is a place where dreams and ideals are alive - in the hearts of young boys in the midst of their search for a place to belong. It doesn’t take much to connect the lives of young boys with one another. Sports, games, adventures…these things bond them and allow them to experience love and a sense of belonging even though they may not recognize it as such. To them, it’s just good times. It seems so simple when we are young.

What we idealize in youth quickly fades to bleak realities as we grow older. Nothing can prepare us for what life will bring, what changes will come our way, the good and bad. What we may dream to become, to be a part of, may not fulfill our grown-up desires as it did in our youth. The more we chase after it, the more the shiny wrapping paper is torn away and we’re left with what is inside in all it’s imperfection and glory. Some of these dreams are taken from us and others just slowly lift away like fog at the mercy of the sun’s rays.

No matter where we go or how much we grow, one thing will always remain – that need for friendship, for a close connection – a bond that will stay with us whether we’re running barefoot around our the neighborhood of our youth or in a foreign land fighting our way home. The dream fades but it never goes away…

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