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

Monday, August 31, 2009

#7 Ain't Got You by Bruce Springsteen

For those who seem to have everything anyone could ever want or need, an intense need for love, true love with one special person remains. Some, as portrayed in many romanticized movies, would give up anything for “the one”. They’d risk their reputation, their riches, and even their family if it means being with the one they love above all others.

This makes me think, though, about how much we actually value love as a society. We hold it up as something to be fought for and surrendered to. However, love is not the pursuit of the world overall. In our society, Western Capitalistic Commercialism, etc… , all those other things, fame, fortune, the gathering and consumption of the latest and greatest things, are the focus. Those are the things we worship while we give lip service to other ideals and values.

In an effort to gain these things, even those who have a lifelong partner, often forsake their “valued” relationship. It’s the same old story…time, money, stress, not being home to tuck little Johnny into bed at night… Something we would die for becomes something taken for granted, something put on the back burner.

Maybe it’s our denial of our mortality. We always think there will be time later for the important things. But time is a tricky thief. It does not discriminate against its victims. Time comes in like a bandit in the night, rushes in and alters our world in a flash. Then it is gone again before we have time to catch our breath. It sits silently by always ready to come again and take away our youth, our energy, our moments, our beauty. Nothing and no one can stop it. Everyone dies, beauty does not save. Everyone dies, riches do not save. Everyone dies, fame does not save. Everyone dies, and even love does not save. Though when time calls us to its final visit, it is love we will remember, it is love we will be grateful for, it is only love that will survive beyond our dying day.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

#6 Adam Raised a Cain by Bruce Springsteen

It’s a difficult process, breaking away from the blueprints of our upbringing. We emulate and pattern ourselves after our parents deliberately and subconsciously. Their ways of dealing with life often become our own, even for a short time only. Adam Raised a Cain exemplifies this struggle through the father/son relationship.

As a child grows and begins finding their own way, the faults of their parent (s) become evident. We no longer see our parents as flawless heroes who can do anything. We see their sins and their limitations. This does not mean we lose respect or appreciation for them. However, this process of growing up leads us to the realization that we need to find our own way, and not repeat the unhealthy patterns that exist in our family’s past.

This realization can be painful. “In the summer that I was baptized / my father held me to his side / as the put me to the water / he said how on that day I cried”. A parent’s inclination, though they want their children to succeed and grow, is often to direct and keep their children at or below their level of functioning. Our loyalty and ideals about the natural order of things, namely parents being more developed than their children, are put to the test. Our love for them makes passing them emotionally, spiritually, or in any other way, a very difficult, though necessary step. “We were prisoners of love, a love in chains”.

In order to break away from that shared “hot blood burning in our veins”, acceptance of what we’ve inherited and a determination to rise above it is needed. When Springsteen sings, “He was standin’ in the door I was standin’ in the rain” he paints an image of a stubborn father stuck in his ways and a determined son painfully letting his father know that though he’s his father’s son in many ways, he has to make choices for himself.

The world, too, makes this transition difficult. They see you as who you were, “your father’s son” and don’t easily accept you for who you are as your own person. “You inherit the sins / you inherit the flames” but they do not have to break you, they do not have to take you, they do not have to drive you into a life “working for the pain”.

All parents dream for something more for their children. Facing the reality of it, though can be a scary prospect. Watching their children surpass them only reminds them of where they failed in life, of what they wanted to become and never managed to do so. A parent can only give themselves as they are. A child can only take what is given them, appreciate the good, and process the bad to find their own way. “Lost but not forgotten, from the dark heart of a dream”.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

#5 Across the Border by Bruce Springsteen

True to many of Springsteen’s characters, the speaker in Across the Border is living on the line between despair and promise. He can’t stay where he is. His only choice is to move forward. He knows what the risks are but hopes for the best.

The first part of the song is a literal journey, much like the ones made by immigrants/refugees seeking a better life for themselves.

The song then flows into a personal journey away from sadness and pain “where pain and memory….have been stilled / there across the border”. He’s looking for the place where he’ll be free to love and be loved.

These external and internal journeys lead him on a spiritual journey where he recognizes that without hope what they have and what they are is not enough. He directly says “that someday we’ll drink from God’s blessed waters”. He recognizes that true freedom lies only in God’s hands. And if to find that freedom, it means death, crossing the “border”, then that is what he is willing to risk. Death will mean more freedom than life in this world ever will.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Friday, August 28, 2009

#4 A Night With the Jersey Devil by Bruce Springsteen, Robert Jones, Gene Vincent

You have to watch the video to this song!

Springsteen did this video as a Halloween internet surprise last year. It’d be easy to dismiss this song as a fun holiday indulgence. However, like many of Springsteen’s songs, this one deals with the eternal, unavoidable connection between father and son. Like Adam Raised A Cain, blood passed on from generation to generation passes on the mistakes and sins as well “of someone else’s past”.

The Jersey Devil is the child whose father’s sins have come to be his own. His father didn’t kill his spirit, he just sent him down a road of living as a tortured soul. Whatever he suffered at the hands of his father leads him to an isolated life where he’s searching for love, but he destroys everyone close to him. Even his mother couldn’t save him from his enslavement to his father’s burdens.

The power that parents have on who their children become is overwhelming. By not facing and dealing with their own demons, parents pass on something that is sometimes irreparable in their children: shame, fears, anger.

The Jersey Devil finally finds love – “her name is Baby Blue”. This reference to Dylan’s song It’s all over now Baby Blue brings to mind a girl on the verge of womanhood. She leaves behind innocent things and faces a new world of uncertainty. A relationship with the Jersey Devil, a man stricken by his and his father’s past, is bound to take any piece of pureness she may have left. He will “sip on [her] blood like wine”. He will take whatever he can from her to help him survive. It will sustain him but drain her.

And the chain continues…

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#3 A Good Man is Hard to Find (Pittsburgh)

No matter who we are or where we are from, we are connected across boundaries and borders by one thing: the need to be loved. We have a need for connection.

When life gives us those opportunities to share a piece of ourselves with someone else, it is a beautiful yet ambivalent experience. When life takes those relationships away, there’s no returning to the past. There’s no undoing what has been done. The pieces of light it gave us remain as do the valleys of shadow. When those connections are taken or left behind, we remain in search for new ones.

However, the fear of loneliness can drive us to settle for something less than we desire, less than what we may have once had. In this song’s story, the woman has a daughter who she will “tell about the meanness in this world / and how a good man is so hard to find”. She will pass on that same desperation, that same defeated fear and sense of solitude as the inevitable outcome of life.

It is sad that many people go through life believing that “a good man is hard to find” (or woman). They experience struggles and disappointments that lead them to generalize that maybe it’s just not possible to find that person who will be good and faithful to them. Because of their bad experiences, they lose their faith in others, and a bit of their trust in mankind.

The way Springsteen sings this ballad is essential to the overall atmosphere of the song. Please take the time to listen to it.

I could not find this song for my audio playlist so I’m putting another song in it’s place (just to keep the songs numbered correctly). However, to hear the song, please see the embedded youtube video.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

#2 57 Channels and Nothin’ On by Bruce Springsteen

A reminder of life’s constant barrage of overpromise/underdeliver. Becoming sick of the shallow culture we’re surrounded by every day that leaves us feeling unfulfilled – constantly searching for that thing that’s going to take us away from it all…that’s going to fill that hole inside us but that constantly absorbs anything we try to fill it with. Instead of filling us up, the things we reach for take away any sense of passion and hope we have left.

I have been feeling completely stuck in my life. I hate my job with a passion, a passion that is speedily approaching apathy. I always felt I wanted to be a part of something bigger, something that actually makes a difference in the world. I don’t know what that is. The longer it takes me to figure it out, the more of my fire I lose. The more I’m forced to have conversations about the weather in the elevator and hear celebrity gossip, the more I lose my faith in humanity. The more alone I feel. Emptiness upon emptiness driving me insane. To quote another favorite writer of mine “Their handing out emptiness and we take it cuz it’s given / Free with its plastic innocence and these standards of living” (David Gray).

Every meaningless experience I have just makes me feel weaker and weaker. I can’t even stand going to Subway for lunch and ordering my sandwich every day. I hate that the girl behind the counter knows my sandwich by heart. I can’t stand grocery shopping or shopping of any kind. It’s the routine of it all I cannot face.

“I can see by your eyes friend you're just about gone / Fifty-seven channels and nothin' on... / Fifty-seven channels and nothin' “

I feel most alive when I’m at a live concert. I’ve been that way my whole life. I love the concert experience…a couple hours of just losing yourself in music, shouting at the top of your lungs. I always get really depressed after a concert. When I was younger I didn’t understand why. Now I know it’s because I want to live in that world, not just taste it once in a while. I want to live among people who create, who are passionate and have a purpose to their lives. I want to be part of that process that leads people to connect with one another, that frees people from their pain even if just for a short time.

I still don’t know what that all means. To quote an anonymous girl who came into our office one day: “I’ve been thinking about my life and I’m confused a bit”.

For Complete Lyrics visit:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This song never fails to stimulate the butterflies of nostalgia that lay sleeping within me. Even though I was born long after Springsteen spent his summers on the boardwalk of Asbury Park, the melancholy of the transition between the simpler times of youth and the changes of growing older still resonates with me.

The best lines are at the end of the song, when he sings,
“Sandy, the angels have lost our desire for us / I spoke to 'em just last night and they said they won't set themselves on fire for us anymore / Every summer when the weather gets hot they ride that road down from heaven on their Harleys they come and they go / And you can see 'em dressed like stars in all the cheap little seashore bars parked making love with their babies out on the Kokomo / Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do / This boardwalk life for me is through / You know you ought to quit this scene too”

The things that are held up as magical in youth, “the angels”, as we get older, become coated with the awareness of life’s darker forces. People, things and places lose their magic, their promise, and their innocence. But with these eye opening experiences come the opportunities for a more deliberately meaningful existence, for a more mature love for another.

As we grow in our understanding of all of life’s forces, a part of us will always hold onto a little piece of innocence, the days where we were free to just be and look at the world and others with pureness and trust. It is that tiny treasure we keep with us through life that still allows us to believe, to have faith in something greater than the seemingly futile lives we now lead. It is the promises of youth that fade over time, but never fully disappear, that give life direction and purpose. Like a hot summer night on the boardwalk filled with lovers, dancers, and fortune tellers, the mystery for something magical remains.

For song lyrics, visit:


My blog is about to take a slight turn. In my effort to find focus, I am going to set myself a goal that will not only force me to write every day but will also allow me to concentrate on something I am passionate about: the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen.

You DO NOT NEED TO BE a Springsteen fan to appreciate my blog. You just need to be interested in the human experience. My blog will not be about Springsteen, but rather the ideas his lyrics generate and the ways in which I relate (or do not relate) to them in my life.

My goal is to write about each song as listed in ABC order on his website I will start at the top, and each day, beginning Tuesday August 25, 2009, I will take his song lyrics and expound on them. There are 267 (if I counted correctly).

I will still post photos and my own poetry as they relate to the songs. I’m really excited about it and know this will generate some thoughtful discussions. I hope you will enjoy it too.

Please keep me posted with your thoughts on this!


Monday, August 24, 2009