Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - The River

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy


When the Occupy Wall Street protests began, they started a blog where people shared their stories of tough economic times. It may be a touch insensitive, but as I read these, they immediately reminded me of Bruce Springsteen lyrics. Bruce has always been inspired by the working class poor, and it speaks loads that lyrics from 30 years ago are even more significant today.

In a 2009 interview on The Daily Show, Springsteen described the state of America and his role in it: "We've had an enormous moral, spiritual, economic collapse. People go to storytellers when times are like that. And our band was built from the beginning for hard times." When I look at story told in The River (and other classic story-songs like Atlantic City), it is somewhat depressing to see how little things have changed over the years. However, these songs are universal and serve as an inspiration to others.

In the same interview, Stewart said, "You introduced me to the concept of the other side. You introduce me to the concept of you go through the tunnel, and you take a chance, and you can work to get away from your circumstance. And by working to get away from your circumstance, you can make something better of yourself, but there's no guarantee." I've taken this message away from Springsteen's songs for years, but I've never been able to explain it this clearly and succinctly.