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June 27, 2006

Bruce and Religion

The larger issue, for me, is how deeply embedded religion is in our culture -- to the point where attempting to live without gods is a much, much more difficult task than we (most of us) think.

Bruce_Springsteen.jpgSaw Bruce Springsteen in his exuberant and delightful folk-revival show the other night in New Jersey . Surely were enough signs that something else was also being revived. "Come on rise up!" went the chorus of one of the few of his own songs he did. (Fellow to left of me seemed as if he were about to start talking in tongues.) From the older folk songs came lines like "every link had Jesus' name." One song about Jacob, another (you know it) about marching saints.

One lesson: the extent to which this is part of the musical tradition. Pete Seeger, whose repertoire Bruce was ostensibly borrowing, is an old lefty. He, I was reminded, never shied away from "Oh Mary Doncha Weep."

Another lesson: Aging -- often, certainly not always -- can bring you further from being able to do without God. Be interesting to chart likelihood of belief at various ages. I suspect the dip would be at about the time Bruce was singing "Born to Run." The peak? Well he may still be climbing. And Bruce is in the avant garde of the baby boom. Where he heads the middle-aged may be likely to follow.

Kind of weird to be dancing and singing along, with your own exuberance and delight, to a line like "Pharaoh's Army Got Drowneded," knowing there is zero historical evidence that the Hebrew exodus from Egypt ever happeneded. Or am I to content myself with the knowledge that this is mere art, mere metaphor?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at June 27, 2006 7:07 PM


Mere art? Zillions of transistors and electronic field manipulations make you feel that spirit and move those feets! Its the science of pop cultural worship, it the art of mass social reality construction.

There is so much spiritual talk in the music world.

And just the other day the end came: "All You Need is Love" is now a Chase Bank commercial. I thought it was over when "Won't Get Fooled Again" was selling Cadillacs, but this is really the perfect metaphor for the corporate rape of everything.

No one was wearing lab coats and experimenting (to mix two topics) with drugs. They aren't hallucinogenic they are psychotropic drugs. Awareness was expanded and they all went "wow!" Then they got jobs and forgot how important life was to live, lied to their kids, lied to themselves, and stood around watching the stock market while the prisons filled with refuse yearning to be free.

Posted by: Jay Saul at June 27, 2006 11:40 PM

i saw bruce talking about 'jesus was an only sun' from 'devils and dust.' he says, no matter what he believes, growing up going to catholic school, these stories are a huge part of his life.
even though i'm not religious, i've become really into 'if it be your will' by leonard cohen (which, as you mentioned, was, along with hallelujah, the two songs he considered his best). i don't think you have to be religious (or i know you don't) to feel the pain and desperation that turn people there. and i think the song really conveys that, and probably needs a religious theme to properly convey that. and pain and desperation are good subjects for music.

Posted by: seth at June 28, 2006 12:59 PM

also, on the topic of religion and music, if i ever become a musician, i'm going to include a line in one of my songs, "like a toilet in a church."
do churches have bathrooms? is there any more absurd scene than a person taking a break from praying to the perfect god who creates us in His image to go produce those smells and sounds? how does that not induce crises of faith every time?

Posted by: seth at June 28, 2006 1:06 PM

"Kind of weird to be dancing and singing along."
-- no offense, but i find the thought of you dancing and singing along kind of weird no matter what the song's about.

Posted by: seth at June 28, 2006 1:17 PM

The man was dancing and singing along. I was there.

Posted by: Lauren at June 28, 2006 2:25 PM

How do you think he lost that hair? Break dancing, spinning on his head!

How about Obama(nation) telling us to include the theists in our big tent. How's about you just stick to policy and leave faith out of it, Mr. GreatBlackHope?

Posted by: Jay Saul at June 28, 2006 6:32 PM

Atheists scared of a little mythology?

Weak. I bet you have nothing against the theistic war raging on for the belief in the evalvation of the paracitic hebe race to Chosen of god status. The majority of confirmed atheists; I bet you they would never cross a Chosenite.

Posted by: An Agnostic Opinion at June 29, 2006 1:52 AM

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