Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Springsteen Lyrics of the Week - No Surrender

This week's lyrics of the week is written by James Layman, who originally made his mark on the blog with this excellent piece.  Take it away, James!

"Well, now young faces grow sad and old
And hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
Now I'm ready to grow young again"
-No Surrender, Born in the U.S.A.

There is a particular ebb and flow to Bruce's work, especially present on Born in the U.S.A.  Youthful arrogance collides with cold gray reality, giving way to a type of stoic cynicism.  In turn, the cynicism collapses into desperation, and the hope to find a way back to a time when the affairs of American life were stronger and simpler.  Back to when we were mindless kids with fast cars and too much time to kill.

Whether we've grown up in New Jersey or Russia, we've all felt that way.  At heart, it's an inevitability.  We come of age shielded by naivety.  We are foolish and arrogant, but physically stronger and sharper than we've ever been.  So we charge forward with a sense of reckless abandon, blissfully oblivious to the fact that the world can hurt us.  And then it does.  Illusions of invincibility make for fragile structures.  There's a time when every river runs dry.  When the youthful electricity of a thousand first kisses fades to dust, and the hopes we took for granted clash with a more stark reality, lurking just beyond the horizon.  And everything that was so simple at seventeen is a thousand fragments of shattered glass.  We can look back at high school, and laugh at those delusions, breathing easy in the satisfaction that we "know better" now.  But there's part of us that will always want to go back to feeling that way.  To when we were stupid.  To when we could bound ceaselessly into the limitless beyond, with the false knowledge that nothing would stand in our way.  "No Surrender" is a song about reaching back down into that long abandoned part of oneself, and finding the fuel for one more mile.

So do it.  The road is open again, and the wind is at your back.

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