2Noted as a musician, Springsteen reveals himself the author of texts of various inspiration and sensitivity: now visionary, now lyrical, now narrative.  In fact one care recognize a kind of journey in his production, that moves from dense verses of abstract images to texts that recount stories with a precision of language, woven with metaphor, alliteration, allegory, that make stories in the form of poetry[1].  A characteristic trait of his album is a realism innervated by dreams and desires in which everyone can find himself or herself.  His art is not detached from common life:  he wants to acknowledge the dignity or, better, the «nobility»[2] of daily life.  To draw inspiration the Boss therefore doesn’t go far: he looks precisely at his personal life—interwoven of high and lows, affective crises and desires of a serene life—and to that of people around him, squeezed between an unrealizable American Dream and the crude daily life of the periphery.

This cord makes it vibrate in unison with writers like John Steinbeck and Flannery O’Connor.  But, among his sources of inspiration is even the Bible.  Springsteen comes from a family of Italian-Irish roots. However his relationship with his religion was never idyllic.  He traced back his refusal of the faith to a negative experience he had as a child: «God was used purely as an instrument of control.  When I turned thirteen I had enough and said: “Enough!”»[3].  The God imagined and refused is therefore the controller God.  Recently some simple gestures by the Boss have given pause to his perception of the sacred[4].

Any consideration linked to the personal conscience of the musician would therefore be undeserved.  What interests us is not to say if Springsteen is a believer or not, nor if his music expresses the faith genuinely or if it betrays it, even why his production in this sense is not even unique.  We intend therefore to note how, consciously or not, his inspiration is rich in figures, terms and symbols of religious meaning.  If, in fact, some of his youthful songs appear blasphemous and banal and are fruit more of an acid vent than of true inspiration, what appears obvious from a complete reading of his tests is the fact that, from the evident rebellion of his adolescent years, it is matched by a sensitivity for the language and symbols of the Christian faith.  Moreover, various theologians—both Catholic and Protestants (Andrew Greely, Jerry H. Gill, Kate McCarthy, William D. Romanowski…)[5]—have noted how the work of Springsteen has a «redemptive» quality: it plays his symbols and his principal themes (street, car, darkness, love…) in a dialectic of damnation and hope, adopting frequent images and terms of the biblical tradition.


From visionary «flash» to dark stories

Springsteen, born in 1949 in a New Jersey small town, by 1965 played in the circuits of Greenwich Village of New York[6].  In 1972 an audition with the producer John Hammond opens the doors of dreams and so in 1973 he brings out his first album: Greetings From Asbury Park, N. J.  He who was launched as a kind of new Bob Dylan already presented an acerbic but personal style, that will allow him to move with a certain freedom between folk, rhythm n’blues and rock.  The scenarios of this album are composed of robbery, the underworld, drunk women, rhythmical drama on the road of escape.  In the piece Growing Up he seems to find the key of the universe in the rumble of an old car.  The restlessness of the twenty-three year old musician to his debut are distilled in a dizzying succession of flash and visions: these songs, Springsteen will say after years, «were flashes of lightning, authentic energy.  I wrote like in the grip of a fever.  I had no money, no place to go, nothing to do.  It was winter, it was cold and I wrote[7]».

His second disc, a collage of frames and extensive sequences held together by the piano, The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle (1974), marks the beginning of his collaboration with the «E Street Band».  Springsteen sings of the survival of the desperate searching for a landing, of a «redemption».  In that masterpiece that is New York City Serenade he sings: So shake it away, so shake away your street life/ shake away the city life and grab the first train.  The rapid visions of the first disc here already seem to begin to stretch out in the form of stories and descriptions.

Born To Run (1975) it the disc that make the Boss become one of the more acclaimed stars of world rock. From now on, the Springsteen «myth» is consolidated.  In this disc, he is framing the symbols of the world from which he comes in a cinema-photographic way: cage, rebellion, escape.  The direction is Northeast, that is Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel (Meeting Across The River and Jungleland), that becomes the cradle of misfits and outcasts.  The tensions he expresses in the power of the automobile, in the magic of the night and of the infinite direction of the street moves towards a longed for liberation in terms of the religious flavor.  Springsteen in fact uses words like faith, redemption, promised land, as far as invoking a savior: that from these streets a savior rises up. If the night is dark, the sidewalk is lighted / and covered by light and in the night it is possible to find a passage / for the soul.  We must believe, clenching the faith between our teeth.  The direction remains towards that place / where we really want to go / And finally we will walk in the sun / But until then vagabonds like us / We were born to run.

In 1978 Darkness On The Edge Of Town comes out.  Springsteen relishes the realization of his dream of success, but he is aware that it is only «an illusion of salvation»[8].   And then the question: «Where is the man OK with his guitar?  What is my place in the world?»[9]  The question opens gloomy scenarios and night time sequences in the white and black of strong contrasts.  The objective is not focused on the escape, but on the difficulties of the journey.  Yet again, the religious language becomes a way to tell the purely human experience.  In Adam Raised A Cain—inspired by the novel East of Eden by Steinbeck—Springsteen sings of the his relationship with his father telling of an inherited sin and of coming into the work paying / for the sins of the past of somebody else.  Clearly, even if the words used are those of the faith, the vision is gloomy and, in desperate strokes, unacceptable for an illuminated prospective of Christian hope.

Springsteen’s poetry rings in consonance with that of the writer Flannery O’Connor who John Landau, reviewer for the magazine Rolling Stone and then his manager, advised him to read[10].  Although he is not able to fully grasp the theological depth of Catholic writers, the reading of these writers was for him a «great, great revelation»[11].  This reading, matured to the threshold of 30 years, produced a notable effect.  Springsteen became passionate about the story A Good Man Is Hard To Find, so much so that he wrote a song with the same title, and for the novel Wise Blood, as well as then to the movie by John Huston in 1979.  Hazel Motes precisely, the protagonist of this novel, affirms that «nobody needs justification if he goes around in a good car».  This phrase could be put in the mouth of the characters of Springsteen’s songs[12]:  in fact, all are, really or metaphorically, embarked on a street, in a car, that is the place of justification, of absolution, of redemption.  The world of the Boss’s characters is gloomy.  For the poetry of O’Connor grace acts «in a territory held in great part by the devil»[13].  Springsteen seems however too blinded by darkness and by badlands, to use two of the many possible metaphors, to see the action of a form of «grace».  In any case, if there can be light, here it shines only if there is darkness.  Darkness On The Edge Of Town leaves man nailed to his own radical condition: sin.  You can make out the temptation that leads to a despairing attitude all too insisted.  Nevertheless he resists a form of redemptive tension, even if in a horizontal direction and therefore insufficient to reach the borders of a real salvation.  Maybe it appears from far away: we’ll run / up to the sea / And we’ll wash these sins from our hands (Racing in the street).  I am a man—he affirms again in The Promised Land—and I believe in a promised land.

In the double album The River (1980) the songs tell of sharp contrasts of states of soul between the lack of a center and the desire for escape between streets and rivers.  The dreams assume the form of an inexhaustible restlessness like in Hungry Heart, that the Swedish theologian Ola Sigurdson reads comparing it to the Confessions of Augustine[14], where it reads: «Our heart is restless until it rest in You».  The reading can appear too generic, because, basically, the heart of every man and woman is always restless.  However, in effect, in the song we notice the contrast between the affirmation that Everyone needs a place to rest / everyone wants to have a home and, on the other hand, the fact that the protagonist, while having a wife and kids, goes out for a spin and then doesn’t return home anymore and goes like a river that doesn’t know where it flows.  At the end, Springsteen rips out of himself a desire: And I wish that God would send me a word / Something to be afraid of losing (Drive all night).

in-concert-unpluggedIn 1982, when music video and postmodern and jazzy elaborations dominate the market, Springsteen comes out with the album Nebraska, that was defined as «resolutely and provocatively out of date» for the «monotone and simple singing, essential music, slow and unadorned»[15].  The songs are presented in the temporary, acoustic form without electric arrangement.  In faded scenarios, they are focused on human failures[16].  Beginning from this experience, Springsteen develops in symbolic terms and implicit poetry of sin, so to speak[17].  The song My Father’s House tells of the return of a son to his father’s house and the model is that of the «prodigal son», but reversed in its meaning.  The conclusion, is in fact bitter and disappointing: the father has moved or is no longer there and the house is cold and isolated / Shining beyond this dark highway where our sins / lie unatoned.  The Boss seems therefore to exclude an intervention that comes for on «high» and that is from above the ribbon of asphalt on which the car is launched.  After the tragedies of madness, images of emptiness, desolation, jail and execution, a last prayer is launched, a dry, sharp scream: free me from nothing (State Trooper).   Despite the gloomy tones, Nebraska however manages to distill even some words of compassion (cfr Highway Patrolman) and hope, like those that harbor in the long stanzas of Reason To Believe.  At the end, despite the daily tragedies, there is always that blind, incomprehensible hope that leads the characters to believe that at the end / people find something / reasons to believe.

In 1984 Born In The U.S.A. comes out, Springsteen’s true, great, world success.  The song that has given the album its name seemed to many a patriotic and triumphal hymn.  Reagan sought to use it in his election campaign.  It was a blunder: the strong and hard rhythms conceal a text that speaks of rage, disillusionment, frustration: I’m ten years burning down the road / Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go.  Yet again, Springsteen tells stories of hard times where the images of an angry vent, of a rainy fog, of a train that drags you down appear.  Sometimes—Springsteen writes—it’s like someone took a knife baby / edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley / through the middle of my soul (I’m On Fire).olland


A turning point in search of «human contact»

At the release of the next disc, Tunnel Of Love (1987), the magazine Rolling Stone comments that here «the Catholic education received by Springsteen can be clearly perceived; the protagonists pray repeatedly to be delivered from evil, stories of love are represented as a manifestation of divine grace»[18], beside those doubts and that perception of evil that we already recognize.  It’s no coincidence, therefore, that after the release of this disc, America¸ the U.S. Catholic weekly, dedicated a cover to the Boss.  The words are more interior.  Now on stage is the grown man (the Boss is by now 37 years old) who must come to terms with his personal life, an idea of home and family that nothing else can replace.  Springsteen now is a man married to the model Julianne Philips, but it is, it seems, almost by chance or mistake: the need for love, for a more solid life have pushed him to an immature choice, in a tunnel that will lead in 1989 to divorce.  The heart is in turmoil or broken and the road is dark and there you feel alone.  Perhaps the more dramatic image of this disc is transformed into a plea: Tonight our bed is cold / I’m lost in the darkness of our love / God have mercy on the man / Who doubts what he is sure of (Brilliant Disguise).  In Two Faces Springsteen sings that a part of himself tends to do things that I don’t understand.  The expressions seem to reecho in some way the seventh chapter of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

More open is the ballad Cautious Man, whose protagonist, Bill Horton, has tattooed on his right hand the word «love» and on his left hand the word «fear» and and in which hand he would hold his fate was never clear.   A nightmare of escape, product of his restless heart, it disturbs him, but at the end it remains an image of light: At their bedside he brushed the hair from his wife’s face / as the moon shone on her skin so white / Filling their room with the beauty of God’s fallen light[19].  The same image of light appears in Valentine’s Day, where we read that And God’s light came shinin’ on through.  The story of the child mother protagonist of Spare Parts also moves between love and fear, who, from fear, decides to put her child down into the waters of a river, so that he is taken far away.  The story seems modelled on Ex 2:1-10, and that is on the image of the placing of the baby Moses in the river.  At the end of the song, the mother retrieves the baby and brings him home, pulling him out of the water.

The next Human Touch and Lucky town (1992), released together, carry signs of a new emotional climate, but also of the emotional rearrangement that happened with marriage to Patti Scialfa and the birth of two children between 1990 and 1991.  They are the expression therefore of a man who at 43 years old attempts to revive his life.  Yet again to say, and Springsteen himself said, he makes reference to a religious language.   The basic idea is that you cannot go light in human relationships; nor are there either miracles or magic, or can you expect something to rain down from heaven: Ain’t no bread from heavenly skies / Ain’t nobody drawin’ wine from this blood (Human Touch).  It is worth noting the inversion in the Eucharistic images that seem to insert love between man and woman in a dimension that does not allow easy escape routes (that is from blood to wine).  In Human Touch however, though prayer surfaces several times, man is entrusted to himself.  He therefore doubts that there might be words of mercy comin’ from on high and words of forgiveness from some God above us. If the words are religious, the horizon of a God who saves remains distant.

The crossing of the Tunnel will lead to a certain opening in Lucky Town.  After a strong human and creative crisis, by 1992 he takes an inward turn for which his life as husband and father is responsible.  After the street, the desire for a «home» makes space and, perhaps, as he affirms in an interview with J. Henke of Rolling Stone, for a church[20].   His gaze seems to stretch out:  Better days are shining through / And I feel like I’m comin’ home (Better Days).  Out where the sky’s been cleared by a good hard rain (Lucky Town), «baptismal», we might say.  Before his eyes, there’s a beautiful river in the valley (If I Should Fall Behind).  In Leap Of Faith Springsteen remains within biblical imagery even to allude to the erotic relationship, with a refrain, repeated for a good 16 times, that seem to tell of the recovery of trust: it takes a leap of faith.  And the «gospel soul movements […] adapt themselves well now embedded into the springsteenian poetry»[21]Living Proof is the song of Springsteen as he became a father, a true and proper hymn to fatherhood: a summer night, oh in a dusky room / Come a little piece of the Lord’s undying light / Crying like he swallowed the fiery moon / In his mother’s arms it was all the beauty I could take / Like the missing words to some prayer that I could never make / Oh, in a world so hard and dirty so fouled and confused / Searching for a little bit of God’s mercy / I found living proof.

The next disc, The Ghost of Tom Joad in 1995, is inspired directly by The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, of which Tom Joad is the protagonist, and by Journey to Nowhere by Dale Maharidge.  It is an acoustic disc like Nebraska and with that album it shares the hard and dramatic themes and accents, so much so as to be not at all completely easy or commercial.  His harsh look becomes a kind of complaint: Families sleeping in the cars in the southwest / No home, no job, no peace, no rest (The Ghost Of Tom Joad).  His look enlarges to wide-reaching dramas led up to framing not only the social effects of evil, but the incomprehensible gratuitous craziness that leads to killing for no reason.  (The New Timer).  The hate generated by the gesture ensures that not even God can console and that is said, almost ironically, in the form of prayer: My Jesus your gracious love and mercy / Tonight I’m sorry could not fill my heart. The dialectic between a skeptical attitude and distance from the faith and the religious language remain nevertheless open and the songs Galveston Bay and Across The Border open scenarios, the one of forgiveness and the other of salvation, imagined with biblical metaphors of grassy pastures and of clear waters that recall Psalm 23[22]


«The Rising»: the meaning of a title

The stories of September 11, 2001 evidently release in the Boss a creative impulse.  In 1984 on the disc Born In The U.S.A. he sang, light and easy-going, of two boys who, to seduce a girl, brag: Our fathers are owners of the World Trade Centers (Darlington County).  The sign of power of which they boast now is transformed into a symbol of brittleness and into a plea for mercy.  In Tribute to Helpers, held September 21, 2001 for raising funds for the victims of the tragedy, he participated with the song My City Of Ruins, composed actually before the collapse of the towers and dedicated to the city of his origins.  In a few months, after having recorded 15 songs in 8 weeks, the new disc comes out, the first in collaboration with the «E Street Band» after Born In The U.S.A.  It is a disc about militancy.  The band itself becomes a «witness group»[23].  The poetry of the texts and of the music born from the tragedy tell of a need for «resurrection».  The key word of this message is therefore in the title: The Rising.  The English rock magazine Uncut comments: «Putting together the songs, beyond any specific characteristic, there is a powerful sense of religious faith, with a religious imagination that emerges in each one of them»[24].  The song that gives the title of the disc is defined by the same magazine as an «Easter hymn».

In the reviews and in the Italian translations of the disc, the word «resurrection», that is so clear and at the same time able to hold together many nuances, is almost never used.  Synonyms are chosen, at times even a bit contorted, such as ascent, get up, recover, awakening…, but not «resurrection», as instead the New York Times clearly decodes, for example, with the synonymous resurrection[25].  Time added that the songs have a «redemptive» value[26].  «They are sad, but the sadness is almost always accompanied by optimism, promise of redemption and invitation to spiritual strength»[27].

The first level of resurrection in the disc The Rising seems to reside in the evident contrast between the meaning of the text and the rhythms of the music:  words of mourning are wrapped by the rhythms of life.  Springsteen affirms having achieved his songs better precisely through the stylistic contrast[28] that breaks the rhythm of the music and the emotional intensity of the text.  In this contrast therefore the relationship between death and resurrection, between horror and hope are sought within the RisingThe Promised Land and Badlands «based on the idea that your feet are resting on daily life, in the real world, but your spirit is reaching high»[29]


The light in the fire

The cut Into The Fire has as a protagonist a fireman streaked with blood who goes up the ladder, within the fire and sees the sky falling.  Here a mix of acoustic and electric instruments accompanies a refrain that seven times, in litany form, revolves around the words strength, faith, hope, love: May your strength give us strength / May your faith give us faith / May your hope give us hope / May your love give us love.  The narrative voice seem to be that of the wife of the fireman: You gave your love to see, in fields of red and autumn brown / You gave your love to me and lay your young body down / Up the stairs, into the fire.  We understand how Springsteen manages here to cleverly penetrate two images: that of the red of the fields and that of the fire, places in which two different acts of love burn up, for the woman and for the victims, but now unified with no possible solution of continuity in a single burning vision.  The theological virtues—faith, hope and love—are called to tell the meaning of the message of this man disappeared into the dust[30]

In the cut, besides the man who gives his life, is deduced, in the weaving of meanings, the presence of another person who remains alone and who must face the parting.  Many songs of the disc are inspired by the sense of broken bond, like the opening cut, Lonesome Day:  string orchestra, full sound of the bass drum, Springsteen’s robust voice are employed to say the hard word «loneliness» and to long for a sweet whisper, tender touch.  They bring down dark and visually powerful images: the dark sun, hell’s brewing and the biblical image of a viper that is in the grass.  The first sin is evoked also in Empty Sky, where the tree of good and of evil appear on the plains of Jordan.  What constitutes here the tragedy rendered by the evocation of the sin in the earthly paradise?  We understand it in the light of two evocative flashes: the blood on the street that cries from the ground and an empty impression in the bed, two images to speak of the sadness of a mourning after a tragedy.  But the images of the absence, that tell of the loss of a woman who is a wife and mother, are more intense in Nothing Man and in You’re Missing. In this last, in particular, Springsteen penetrates into the horror of abandonment and the song becomes a catalog of absence.  In the house, everything is there: shirts, shoes, jackets.  There is no longer, however, the person to whom these things belong.  Your house is waiting / For you to walk in, for you to walk in / But you’re not there, you’re not there.  And then, even God’s drifting in heaven, like even He takes part in this drift of abandonment.  To whoever waits in vain only tears and dust remain.

We can come close to the desperation of the victim of the tragedy of the brutal murder that we deduce in Paradise, the sad meditation of a boy who is going to carry out a suicide attack.  He substitutes school books with explosive and he goes to the market, drifting from face to face, closing his eyes, holding his breath and waiting for a paradise, that however is cold and empty.

But, the more definitive word is of hope.  In Worlds Apart the Boss leaves the opening of the piece to the voice of Asif Ali Khan, a Pakistani singer of qawwali music, a traditional form of Islamic music closely tied to Sufism.  ‘Neath Allah’s blessed rain the worlds remain distant, separated.  From here the powerful plea to find the truth in the beating of / our hearts, and let love give / what it gives.  The image of the wall that divides return in Let’s Be Friends, like the hope returns when it falls: There’s a lot of walls need tearing down / Together we could take them down one by one.  Hope shows up also in Waitin’ On A Sunny Day: it’s raining but there are no clouds in the sky: it is a tear.  But sure as the turnin’ of the night into day.  The wait remains:  I’m waitin’, waitin’ / on a sunny day / gonna chase the clouds away.  Another bright image appears in Further On Up The Road: to the cold night follows the certainty that One sunny mornin’ /  we’ll rise / I know /And I’ll meet you / further on up the road.

My City of Ruin opens with some images that create strong contrasts: a red circle of blood on the dark earth, an empty church with the door wide open and from which organ music diffuses out, the sound of the bells / of mercy that spreads out among the trees, children like leaves disperse, the streets empty and windows boarded up.  They are the images that color my city of ruins. And then a powerful cry of resurrection arises: Come on, rise up!, followed by a prayers: I pray for the strength Lord /With these hands, With these hands / I pray for the faith, Lord / I pray for your love, Lord / I pray for strength Lord[31].  Certain judgments, like that of Gino Castaldo, who affirms that many songs on the disc seem to be «secular prayers, based on that religion of man that is the Boss’s credo»[32] leave us astounded. The prayer from the Springsteen’s verses here is not at all «secular»: it is religious and it could not be more clear.  It is then precisely this religious language (Springsteen speaks explicitly of gospel) that takes care to tell of the human experience tout court.

The cut that most clearly sheds light on the meaning of Springsteen’s style and message in this disc is that which gives the collection its title: The Rising.  We intuit that the protagonist is a fireman who is going up the stairs of one of the hit towers:  he does not see anything in front of him, he makes his way in the darkness and only feels the exhaustion and the weight that he has on his back.  In the morning he woke up carrying, Springsteen writes, the cross of my calling.  The man’s journey seems to be happening as in response to a vocation and the weights that he has on his back become a true and proper cross, carried with suffering and decision.  Only in the light of these images of strong religious value can we understand the refrain: Come on up for the rising[33].  The word cross decisively guides the translation of the word rising with «resurrection», precisely.  The fireman reaches a borderline and his eyes open on a simple «view», a «vision» within a splendid prayer: There’s spirits above and behind me / Faces gone black, eyes burnin’ bright / May their precious blood bind me / Lord, as I stand before your fiery light.

What is happening?  If in the first stanzas concrete and crude images prevail (back, backside, eyes…), in the next, the passage is fulfilled.   The man sees the dead becoming spirits because he himself is going through the threshold between life and death.  His ascension is physical and spiritual together.  The fire assails his body and he becomes a blessing, light in the darkness of the soot.  The reference to precious blood seems to be a religious trace, this being a very widespread word of Christian devotion.  The mystery of the cross then appears to extend to all the victims, while the emotions open in a crescendo of epic tone.

Then a woman, Mary, takes over: I see you Mary in the garden / In the garden of a thousand sighs / There’s holy pictures of our children / Dancin’ in a sky filled with light.  Who is this Mary?  Maybe she is the wife of the fireman.  The name «Mary» is moreover well attested in the Boss’s songs.  It is, unfortunately, also in an ambiguous manner, so much so that in a text from 1971 some vulgarly blasphemous expressions referred to the Virgin surface.  Here however, at a distance of 30 years, the context and the connotations seem to be totally different and Springsteen himself, interviewed by Uncut, affirmed «I am sure that is the Catholic that comes out in myself» and then he suggests: «It could be about a religious vision»[34].  We recall that the song is formed from a passage of the view to the vision and we note that the verse that follow concludes with the invocation to sky of fullness, sky of blessed life.


 A language that tells the human experience

Springsteen therefore achieves interpenetration of images and meanings.  This process, in reality, is only the example of a symbolic procedure wider and more diffuse on the disc, according to what he himself has declared: «I think that the songs are appealing to a shaded superimposition of these ideas.  Religious and daily life must in some way merge», for which he affirms of moving «towards a religious imagination to explain the experience»[35].  In The Rising «the figures dominate a discourse that is wrapped in on itself as if he could not manage to find an interlocutor»[36].  It is like the voice spoke to itself.  Springsteen, however, does not stop at an aphasic language and he manages to infringe on the loneliness of the monologue.  However to do this he needs a different language.  He must shift to another plain, that of the symbol, of the evocation or of the invocation to address a «you» who disappeared beneath the dust or to a «You» who can give something from above: strength, faith, hope, love.  It is precisely this linguistic movement that has allowed to give life to a rich discourse of resonance: the mystery assumes a physical dimension and the physicality assumes a spiritual, further direction.

The procedure of symbolic value that we have illustrated is, in our judgement, one of the salient elements of Springsteen’s music, previously experienced by him also in his past, at least in his better moments.   The Rising then is not the expression of a simple ransom, an ascension, a «rising up», nor solely a religious term.  It is something more complex:  here, in our opinion, it is the practice of the religious imagination to offer language and symbols to tell the universal experience of the pain of death and of the expectation of a resurrection.

Antonio Spadaro S.I.


[1] He himself has affirmed that writing songs is something very similar to the work of writing a short story, brief stories.  A name for all: Raymond Carver; cfr «Rock and Read: Will Percy Interviews Bruce Springsteen», in Doubletake 12 1998, now at http://doubletakemagazine.org/mag/html/backissues/12/steen/

[2] Cfr J. Pareles, «His Kind of Heroes, his Kind of Songs», in The New York Times, July 14, 2002.

[3] B. Flanagan, Written in the soul.  29 interviews with the greats of rock, Milan, Arcana, 1987, 274.

[4] Gestures like lighting a candle to the Virgin in the Basilica of San Petronio during his Bologna tour of 1998 (cfr E. Labianca, American skin. Life and music of Bruce Springsteen, Florence, Giunti, 2000, 232) or the wearing of a medal that represents St Christopher, which for Catholics is the patron of travelers, are gestures that, in their simplicity, tell of a form of relationship with the symbols of Christian devotion.

[5] Cfr A Greeley, «The Catholic Imagination of Bruce Springsteen», in America, February 6, 1998, 110-115; J. H. Gill, «The Gospel According to Bruce», in Theology Today 45 (1988-89) 87-94; K. McCarthy, Deliver Me from Nowhere: Bruce Springsteen and the Myth of the American Promised Land, in E. M. Mazur – K. McCarthy, God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture, London – New York, Routledge, 2001; W. D. Romanowski, Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture, Grand Rapids (MI), Brazos Press, 2001.

[6] Springsteen’s songs up to the album Lucky Town are contained in the original with translation alongside in M. Cotto, Bruce Springsteen.  Tutti i testi con traduzione a fronte, Milan, Arcana, 1986.  Later it appeared in the volume Songs, Milan, Mondadori, 1999, which publishes the texts only in the original.

[7] E. Labianca, American skin…, cit., 18.

[8] B. Flanagan, Written in the soul…, cit., 257 s.

[9] Ibid, 268.

[10] Cfr our «The literature in the devil’s territory.  The poetry of Flannery O’Conor», in Civ. Catt. 2001 IV 36-45.

[11] «Rock and Read…», cit.

[12] Cfr B. Flanagan, Written in the soul…., cit., 257 s.

[13] F. O’Connor, In the territory of the devil.  On the craft of writing, Rome-Naples, Theoria, 1993, 82.

[14] Cfr O. Sigurdson, «Songs of desire.  On pop music and questions of God», in Concilium 37 (2001) 51 s.

[15] Review by S. Pond in Rolling Stone of October 28, 1982.

[16] Cfr E. Labianca, American skin…, cit., 97.

[17] Cfr B. Flanagan, Written in the soul…, cit., 258.

[18] Review by S Pond in Rolling Stone, December 3, 1987.

[19] The believing consciences knows that «perfect love drives out fear» and whoever loves «dwells in the light», as the First Letter of John (4: 18 2, 2-10).

[20] Interview of J. Henke, in Rolling Stone, August 6, 1992.

[21] E. Labianca, American skin…, cit., 158.

[22] The artistic story of Springsteen is decidedly more articulated than what we have presented up to here and his production is broader than appeared in the discs.  We note, for example, that, beyond the numerous bootleg ones, that is pirated discs containing material never published, that many circulate among the fans, are recordings to come out from live concerts, anthologies and above all a boxed collection containing 4 discs of as many as 66 tracks, songs that never landed on official discs.  Finally, we recall that in 1994 Springsteen obtained the Oscar for best original song with Street of Philadelphia, that appeared in the film Philadelphia by Jonathan Demme.  The song is then merged into the anthology Greatest Hits of 1995.

[23] J. Tyrangiel, «Bruce Springsteen.  An intimate look as how Springsteen turned 9/11 into a message of hope», in Time, August 2002, 59.

[24] A . Sweeting, «Into the Fire», in Uncut, September 2002, 52.  We note that rising is a term that anyone who goes to Mass always hears repeated in the Canon at the moment of the remembrance of the dead in the hope of resurrection (…who have gone to their rest in the hope of  rising again).

[25] Cfr J Pareles, «His Kind of Heroes», cit.

[26] J. Tyrangiel, «Bruce Springsteen…», cit., 57.  Cft also S, Manzoor, «Fanfare for the common man», in Uncut, September 2002, 103.

[27]J. Tyrangiel, «Bruce Springsteen…», cit., 57.

[28] Cfr A. Sweeting, «Into the Fire», cit., 54


[29] Ibid, 52.

[30] Also in Countin’ On A Miracle the words strength, faith, hope love along with life, dream, heart, here immediately refereed to a desired woman: their fate together will have fulfillment only in God’s hands.  Yet again, the religious projections and the language that it produces helps to tell the human experience of the “miraculous” overcoming of loneliness.

[31] This is the literal translation.  That of A. Portelli inserted in disc package instead is inexplicably separated for the original English text.

[32] G. Castaldo, «Cercando l’innocence sotto la cenere di ground zero (Looking for innocence under the ashes of ground zero», in Musica! Rock & altro, suppl. to La Repubblica, July 25, 2002, 13 s (emphasis ours).

[33] Portelli reads it thus: «Come on when it’s time to rise up».

[34] A. Sweeting, «Into the Fire…», cit., 56.

[35] Ibid.*

[36] A. Portelli, «Un dolore vissuto senza più bandiere (A sorrow lived without any more flags)», in il Manifesto, July 26, 2002.

Translation by Reyanna Ryce


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