On Friday night I’m leaving the kids at home and taking my best girl to see, hear and witness the incomparable Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
If you haven’t heard, the 67 year old Boss, is currently playing 4 hour musical marathons. Electric sets fused with 30 plus songs spanning 40 plus years of musical endurance.
To honor Bruce’s current American tour, his upcoming biography and my wife and I’s first date in a really long time, I would like to explore one of his most enduring songs–Thunder Road.
Thunder Road is my favorite song. Period. At age 24, Springsteen wrote a near 5 minute song so wrought with maturity and human complexity that it rivals great works of literature written by much older people.
TR’s protagonist is locked in an emotional vice, he’s fixed at a personal crossroads, he needs to make a decision and he has make it now! (Can anything be more adult then that?)
TR’s timelessness is its themes. Themes that never cease. In fact, they only gain more mass and weight as time passes.
In its explosive, defiant conclusion, TR is often consider a young person’s song. I disagree. It’s not a young person or an old person’s song. It’s an ageless song. One, at its thematic core, is the most human song I know.
The Need for Companionship
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside
Darling you know just what I’m here for
It’s one of the great human contradictions– we crave companionship yet we enjoy isolation. And in life, we need others to survive yet only inside ourselves can we find the seeds of happiness and meaning.
Running from the Past
There were ghosts in the eyes
Of all the boys you sent away
Move to a new city. Make new friends. Invest in a gold toilet.Win your bowling league. No matter what you do, what you accomplish, you will never put enough miles between the present and the past.
Finding your True Self
Well I got this guitar
And I learned how to make it talk
Adults are notorious for disbanding dreams and living an unfulfilled, uninspired life. Like him or not, Springsteen has spent his entire life chasing down a dream, asking questions, pushing buttons, pursing passion all in the name of personal evolution. And that– you’ve got to respect.
The Drama of Choice
And my car’s out back
If you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door’s open but the ride it ain’t free
You’re reading this and you’re standing at a figurative crossroads (…hopefully not a literal one). As TR’s protagonist understands– we’ve all got choices to make and we need to make them now. One of the great tragedies of the human condition is that we will never be short on choices.
The Promise of Better Days
It’s town full of losers
And I’m pulling out of here to win
In the grand, defiant conclusion of the song we hear our protagonist triumphantly announce he has made a choice. If only we could have his confidence and moxie, we may find the courage to take risks and see the future not as a place of fearful unknowns but a place bursting with possibility and aliveness.
For me, Thunder Road remains an empty church. It’s big and grand. It’s finely detailed and yet it remains mysterious and haunting while being strangely intimate, strangely comforting.
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