Reasons I admire Bruce Springsteen (3): Unique combination of music and lyrics

Vooroor by fans in pitI am constantly amazed at Bruce’s talent to marry the depth and scope of his lyrics to the wonderful tunes that make them accessible to thousands (millions?!) of people. Three of the best examples (in my opinion) are Badlands, The promised land, Dancing in the dark and Better days. All of them songs with a profound meaning, but also a whole stadium of people can dance on that music.

I have once read somebody describing one of the shows as bipolar. This person found the distance between the often sad lyrics and the exuberant music too much. Personally I have often wondered how Bruce himself can handle it. Maybe the answer lies in the question: He can handle the sadness in the lyrics through the joy of the music.

Of course there are many songs where the music is just as sad as the lyrics. I often find these difficult to handle. The whole of the Nebraska album is certainly the best example, with Tom Joad not far behind. I admire those fans who can really enjoy these songs. I certainly need the music to lift me up.

Wrecking Ball lyrics: Rocky Ground

Rocky Ground is one of the very few songs on Wrecking Ball that I do not really like, and which does not seem to grow on me. It is difficult to say why, as quite a few reviewers see it as one of the best songs on the album. Which shows that a song being good or bad does not always have that much to do with how it touches people.
Maybe it is because personally I am moving away from the old beliefs with which I have grown up. Bruce’s music generally speaks so clearly to me because he usually seems to concentrate on the power of a Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: You’ve got it

You’ve got it certainly sounds a little out of place on the album at first. But of course, if your mind is open, it grows on you. I am at the moment listening to Tracks, and I think it would have fitted perfectly there. A nice song, nothing wrong with it, but not with the same power as the previous songs on Wrecking Ball. And maybe that is the reason for its inclusion, just to break the tension.
As a writer of romantic novels, I assume the it to be that elusive something that attracts a person to another, that something that you cannot really explain. The quality that makes you fall in love with this person and not the other, although the latter might be Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: The title track

Even though I know nothing about the stadium or about American football, this song has resonated with me from the first time I heard it in 2009. To me it is a defiant shout to all things trying to take away the quality of our lives. It could be all kinds of trouble, but especially old age. And ultimately death.

No, we cannot stop these things. But we can give them a hell of a time while we have breath in our lungs and fire in our hearts. We can look them in the face even if we cannot change them or make them go away. This song is at once sad in that it admits the difficulties in life, but exuberant as well, as it pours out a great love Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Jack of all trades

This song came as a bit of a surprise after Easy Money and Schackled and drawn,  as it brings a complete change of pace. Which I later realized, fits perfectly into the bigger picture of the album as a whole. Personally I think one of Bruce’s many talents is to fit heartbreaking lyrics to feet-stomping melodies, and in doing so he makes it more accessible for ordinary folks (like me) who are no music pros, but just enjoy a nice, catching melody. Of course then the lyrics creeps up on you and before you know, they have you by the throat.

This song made me cry the very first time I heard it. It seems to be a beautiful pledge of love and commitment, something a groom Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: This depression

This seems to be one of the saddest songs I have ever heard Bruce sing. But also a hopeful (Now the morning sun, the morning sun is breaking) and brave song. Brave because here is somebody in deep anguish, but who knows what he needs. If all of us could consciously reach out for love and connection when we are in trouble (any kind of trouble), the world probably would have been a better place. But instead we are all too inclined to cut ourselves off from the human touch Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Shackled and drawn

I can see an old workhorse patiently trudging along. Or an old man with a solid work ethic handling a hard life the only way he knows to – by hard, honest work. He has never learned about working smarter instead of harder. And would probably despise the idea. He takes immense pride in his work and probably despises guys with soft hands and desk jobs (the bankers?) But if hard work does not solve all his problems, he is at a lose Continue reading

Wrecking ball lyrics: Easy money

In my head I can see the couple on their way to go out, just like any of us would. See to the pets, put on something nice to wear, prepare for a nice evening out. But of course there is no fun in this song, only heartbreak.

My favourite lines:
There’s nothing to it mister, you won’t hear a sound
When your whole world Continue reading

An amazing tribute!

Bruce: From Thunder Road to 62 by Ron Wells

On Sept. 23, 1949 there was a darkness all over the land, a darkness rising from the desert floor, and a deathly darkness on the edge of town. There was blackness and sorrow, a sky of longing and emptiness. The poets weren’t writing nothin’ at all, they just stood back and let it all be. Everyone hid on the backstreets, even the river was dry, containing nothing but memory and shadow. In one town , a man was taking a knife to cut the pain from his heart. So many were bruised and battered, it was like a living hell of devils and dust. There was just a meanness in this world, and a father sighed, “Sorry son it’s Continue reading

Ten years after the horror

After a wonderful week in nature, out of reach of cell phones or internet (thank heavens for my MP3 player!), I came back to the stark reality of what happened ten years ago and still feels impossible to believe (never mind understand). In 2001 I was struggling with life in general and depression specifically, so I protected myself by trying to avoid most news about what happened. But of course that was impossible. Today I remember three specific articles I read in the aftermath of 9/11. Each of them carried so much of the goodness that can come out of evil, that I was lifted up Continue reading

Can you recognize this song?

One soft infested summer me and Terry became friends
Trying in vain to breathe the fire we was born in
Catching rides to the outskirts tying faith between our teeth
Sleeping in that old abandoned beach house getting wasted in the heat
And hiding on the backstreets,
hiding on the backstreets
With a love so hard and filled with defeat
Running for our lives at night on them backstreets

Inspired by Bruce Springsteen

All my readers will by now know that Bruce’s work and the way he conducts his professional life is a huge inspiration for me while I am trying for excellence in my little corner of the creative world. Mostly I was just inspired by his work ethics, his quest for constant renewal and a lot of other qualities. All Springsteen fans will understand what I am going on about. But recently I have deliberately used him as inspiration for two of my romance novels.
In Liedjie vir jou (Song for you) the romantic hero is a scientist and singer who composes in Afrikaans, but is inspired by The Boss and loves his music. He has a particular aversion to Afrikaans commercial music. (Which is in reality quite awful.) He meets his dream girl in Continue reading

Looking back: The ties that bind …

This was posted a year ago. Thinking of Bruce and Clarence as I prepare to travel to Sunderland for my very first Springsteen show …

I have decided to allow myself one more post concentrating on Clarence’s death. Which brings me to the very real danger of allowing oneself to concentrate on death – and to forget about life. And as we all know, he was a man who really enjoyed living.
One of my recurring thoughts during the week since his death was Continue reading

First poem: Seascape

Yes, I know I have a lot  to catch up – but it is so wonderful to make new discoveries every now and again. Today’s gem is Bruce’s first poem, published in his college literary magazine. Read more at http://www.springsteenlyrics.com/lyrics/s/seascape.php

 If one reads carefully, you can surely hear some traces of great things to come … I’m thinking Spirit in the night …

 SEASCAPE

Earth Children turn their new eyes upward,
As the rain falls into outstreched arms.
The world moves with Continue reading

A song to break your heart: Independence Day

Well Papa go to bed now it’s getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now …
I grew up without a father and with a mother who meant well, but there was no real communication, no real deeper contact. I know the feeling of having things (a whole lot of them!) to say, and not being able to say them.
There was just no way this house could hold the two of us
I guess that we were just too much of the same kind …
In every child’s life there comes the time to leave. But hopefully not Continue reading

The Bruce of the Eighties

Hilarious excerpt from a wonderful post at this link: http://jameskillough.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/i-monster/
I check my look in the mirror
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.
— Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark

The caption for this photo on the site I poached it from said, “Springsteen made it acceptable for men to Continue reading

Diary of a depression fighter … Why?

The idea for this has been haunting me for some time now. (If you are not yet aware of the link between my personal fight against depression and my love for Bruce’s music, do read about my  own journey at https://marilebetterdays.wordpress.com/these-are-better-days/ and https://marilebetterdays.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/out-of-the-badlands-into-the-promised-land/).  I have started a diary about depression on my personal blog.  (in Afrikaans, my home language) after having some success with my diary of a romance writer. My first post has created so much reaction that I decided to Continue reading

Two hours of nothing but love

Much as I had looked forward to Julian Garicia’s programme of love songs for Valentine’s Day, I came out a little disappointed. Although it was certainly still worth getting up at 4 a.m. it did not live up to my expectations. (Which just shows how easily high expectations can lead to disappointment!) Also, really listening carefully to Jersey Girl for the first time, made it worth it. Actually quite a few of my own special favourites were there, as beautiful as ever. I will only mention three of them here.
Two hearts: A song I have only recently discovered on Live in NYC. I just ove the interaction with Stevie.
… Alone buddy there ain’t no peace of mind
That’s why I’ll keep searching till I find my special one …

Tougher than the rest: Wonderful to see him Continue reading

Best rock song of all time?

Here is the view of a fellow blogger:
And the number one classic rock song of all time is …
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen – Bruce scored big with the title track to his third album, released in 1975. This song is almost beyond words, as Bruce is such a master lyricist that he sums them all up for us. Nothing we can say or think is original, because Bruce already sang it. This song is perfect – partly because Bruce and the band spent six months working on this song to make it so – in every way: its lyrics, which speak of escaping a town that rips the Continue reading

Where it all started for me …

On an ordinary winter’s day in 2009 my life started to change. A small shift of destiny took place.
No, nothing spectacular like a man with a diamond or a huge writing contract or instant beauty or eternal slimness (is there such a word?). Just a beautiful, unassuming little song on local radio. It caught my attention, I did not catch the title, nor the name of the artist. And promptly forgot about it.
A day or two later I heard it again. This time I made sure to catch the title and the artist’s name. Tomorrow never knows by Bruce Springsteen. And the rest, as they say, is history. Nothing has been the same again for me since then.
Surely it is a strange choice. But I did not choose it. The song chose me. Yes, I agree it is not one of his great, epic songs. Nor his greatest love song. It is just … well, beautiful. Wistful, pure, simple. Beautiful.
I don’t know what really caught me about the song. Maybe the title – even my computer changed it to Tomorrow never comes.
Where the cold wind blows
Tomorrow never knows
Where your sweet smile goes
Tomorrow never knows
Maybe just the feeling of not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but trying to make the most of the moment, trying to catch the essence of the now. Maybe the knowledge that the sweetness of a smile can Continue reading

A love song for Valentine’s day

Contrary to what you would expect from a person who makes a living writing romantic fiction, I don’t like the idea of Valentine’s day very much. Well, nothing wrong with the idea, but come on, whose smiles are even bigger than those of the girls being treated by their loved ones? The business people, of course.  Still, nothing wrong with that. What I have against Valentine’s Day is the expectations which are raised for ordinary people. The same Continue reading

The wrestler

As with Philadelphia, it was Bruce Springsteen’s music that brought me to a movie that I missed at its time. As with with Philadelphia, The wrestler (Working on a dream album) turned into an unforgettable movie experience for me. And – I must add – I have no interest at all in wrestling, in fact, I hate every form of violence (Which poses a problem concerning rugby, the king of sport in my country!)
It was definetely Mickey Rourke who did it for me. His portrayal of the aging sportsman with all the burned bridges behind him, just touched me from the first scene to the last, heartbreaking moment. The loneliness, the financial problems, the brotherhood of the ring, the humiliation, Continue reading

Out of the badlands into the promised land

Until recently I have concentrated on the positive side of one of the songs of Bruce Springsteen I love best, namely The Promised Land.
If I could take one moment into my hands

Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man
And I believe in a promised land
And then one day I just saw the explanation of years of my own struggle in the rest of the song. I spent years of unhappiness in the wrong career, feeling exactly as Bruce describes here:
I’ve done my best to live the right way

I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this whole town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start
And all the time I kept Continue reading

Why I admire Bruce Springsteen (6): A song for every emotion

In a previous post I wondered if Bruce has an idea how much his work means emotionally to so many people. Yes, I know there have been numerous programs and books about it, but still, does he understand? CAN he understand, not being a fan, but being the man himself? His work just resonates with so many emotions.
It ranges from the youthful playfullness of Out in the Street, through the anguish of the Darkness album, the beautiful love songs on the new The Promise, the hope and determination to make a better life in Badlands and The promised land, the celebration of Continue reading

Live in New York City: Youngstown

Here in north east Ohio
Back in eighteen-o-three
James and Danny Heaton
Found the ore that was linin’ yellow creek
They built a blast furnace
Here along the shore
And they made the cannon balls
That helped the union win the war

If you did not know it is a Springsteen song, it just as well could have been the beginning of a short story or an historical novel. But in his hands it becomes a seering lamentation about the greed of men and Continue reading