Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Best Bruce Springsteen Songs for New Parents

Last month my wife and I were blessed with the gift of a baby boy. It's an unbelievable experience and we couldn’t be happier. But it’s also a lot of work! As much as you read or observe beforehand, nothing prepares you for the 24/7 commitment of raising a newborn. So, like everything in life, a good Bruce Springsteen playlist can get you through the scary parts, amplify the happy parts and preserve your sanity when you're at your wits' end.

This is a happy playlist to celebrate the joys of bringing a baby into the world, so I've left off downers like “The River” for obvious reasons. The songs included in the playlist are not necessarily songs written about babies or the parenting process, but they are songs that can take on a new connotation when you become a parent. Some of these songs are good for singing to your baby, some are good for singing to yourself when you don’t know what else to do…

“Dancing in the Dark” – Born in the U.S.A.

In the early months, you'll find yourself working through many a sleepless night. And while you're trying everything you can to sooth your crying baby, you'll often find yourself dancing in the dark beside the baby's crib. It doesn't always work but sometimes it's just what a baby needs to get to sleep. You have to be persistent though. After all, you can't start a fire without a spark.

“Working on a Dream” – Working on a Dream

“The nights are long, the days are lonely.” These lyrics give you an idea of what caring for a newborn can feel like, especially if you aren't blessed with an extended support network of family and friends. My wife and I are very fortunate in this regard, but we can still find ourselves counting down the seconds from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. and then sitting around bleary-eyed staring at the ceiling during the daytime while the baby finally sleeps and the bright sunlight streams through the curtains. But in these moments, you have to remember that raising a baby is like working on a dream.

“Let’s Be Friends (Skin to Skin)” – The Rising

Medical practitioners will tell you the great benefits of going skin to skin with your baby. This means putting the baby's bare body (with diaper on of course) on your bare chest for periods of time. This helps regulate baby’s breathing, provides comfort and gives parents an additional connection point, especially for fathers. And it's even more fun if you sing the song to your baby while you prepare. The song's repeated lyric "Don't know when this chance might come again, good things got a way of coming to an end" is also a good reminder of the fleeting process of caring for a newborn. Babies grow up in the blink of an eye and you have to take advantage of it while you can.

“When You Need Me” – Tracks

“When you need me, call my name.” It will be a while before your baby can call your name, but you’ll feel this way immediately. And with good reason since a baby is 100% dependent on you. But one day your baby will grow up and won't be as dependent on you, but you’ll still feel this way.

“Man's Job” – Human Touch

The song is clearly about lust and love between adults, but you can appropriate some of these lyrics for caring for a newborn: “Loving you is a man's job.” Everything inside you tells you that you should automatically love your child, and hopefully you will. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Fatherhood is hard. It’s not for boys, you need to be a man to do the job right.

“Restless Nights” – Tracks

“My baby, she has restless nights.” This one speaks for itself.

“Take ‘Em as They Come” – Tracks

Each day is different, and try as you might to create a schedule or routine, there's no rhyme or reason to what works and what doesn't. You just have to take each day as it comes, and learn to appreciate the sleepless nights as much as the restful ones. The song itself is very dark, but Bruce’s singing is so hard to understand that you can just focus on the chorus and sing along emphatically for reassurance when you’re dealing with an open-air diaper incident or pacing around at 3:00 in the morning.

“The Wish” – Tracks & “Walk Like a Man” – Tunnel of Love

These songs are the more forward-looking entries in the playlist. While it's hard to imagine in your current state, one day your baby will be all grown up, and you can only hope you earn the respect and love expressed for a mother and father in this pair of songs.

In addition to listening to the above songs, I also strongly recommend picking up a copy of the Sleepytime Players Lullaby Tribute to Bruce Springsteen so that you can rock your baby to sleep with a combination of Springsteen melody, dulcet lullaby tones and your own off-key singing.

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