Brilliant Disguise

“We all have two sides to us, our public self and our private self. “Brilliant Disguise” on first listening sounds like a song of betrayal. Who’s that person sleeping next to me, who am I? Do I know enough about myself to be honest with that person? But songs change their meaning based on time, singing them, who you sing them with. When you sing it with someone you love it turns into something else. It becomes a reaffirmation of loves’ mysteries, it’s shadows, frailties and acceptance of those frailties, without which there is no love.”Bruce Springsteen (61)
“Trust is a fragile thing. It requires allowing others to see as much of ourselves as we have the courage to reveal. But “Brilliant Disguise” postulates that when you drop one mask, you find another behind it until you begin to doubt your own feelings about who you are.”Bruce Springsteen (1194)

Jesus Was An Only Son

“That’s a song that starts from the premise that everybody knows what it’s like to be saved. On “Devils and Dust” I wrote several songs about mothers and sons and this is one of them. It’s something I haven’t written a whole lot about before and I was kind of interested in the relationship between parent and child which is why Mary figures so prominently in the song. I felt that if I approached the song from the secular side the rest of it would come through. [Explaining the lyrics – Ed]…

Jesus was an only son
Bruce – that’s my main metaphor but Jesus had earthly brothers and sisters but not on this particular day, this day he was singular.

As he walked up Calvary Hill
Bruce – that’s his proving ground, that’s darkness on the edge of town, that’s…once you’re a catholic, there’s not getting out, that’s all there is to it.

His mother Mary walking beside him
In the path where his blood spilled
Bruce – that is the path of consequence and we all have one of those.

Jesus was an only son
In the hills of Nazareth
As he lay reading the Psalms of David
At his mother’s feet
Bruce – well I wanted an image of parental love and of nurturing and of life and of promise and of peace before what was to come.

A mother prays, “Sleep tight, my child, sleep well
For I’ll be at your side
That no shadow, no darkness, no tolling bell,
Shall pierce your dreams this night”
Bruce – well every parent wants to keep their children from all harm. It’s such a primal thing, I was shocked when I first felt it so deep inside of myself.

In the garden at Gethsemane
He prayed for the life he’d never live,
He beseeched his Heavenly Father to remove
The cup of death from his lips
Bruce – well you’d have to be thinking, “there was that little bar in Galilee , pretty nice little place, the weather’s good down there too, I can manage the place, Mary Magdalene could tend bar, we could have some kids, and the preaching: I could do it on the weekends, I don’t have to give it up.”

Now there’s a loss that can never be replaced,
A destination that can never be reached
A light you’ll never find in another’s face,
A sea whose distance cannot be breached
Bruce – that verse is the finality of death. Regardless of what Jesus was going to mean to Mary, she was just losing a boy. We lose one another, people don’t get replaced. I have a friend, my wife and I had a friend lived next door to us, passed away very young. She used to come over to us every night. There was a moment she’d be framed in the front window just before she was going to knock on the door. I would look up and she was a very tall and elegant lady and I still wait to see her in that window.

Well Jesus kissed his mother’s hands
Whispered, “Mother, still your tears,
For remember the soul of the universe
Willed a world and it appeared
Bruce – that’s transformation, our children have their own destiny, they have their own destiny apart from us, and I think my idea was to try to reach into the idea of Jesus as a son, as somebody’s boy. I think that what ever divinity we can lay claim to is hidden in the core of our humanity and, when we let our compassion go, we let go of what ever little claim we have to the divine.”Bruce Springsteen (61)

Reason To Believe

“This song is about the price that blind faith and refusing to give up your illusions extracts from you.”Bruce Springsteen (69)

Bobby Jean

“[On asked if Steve Van Zandt was Bobby Jean – Ed]. That’s just a song about friendship. I’m sure I drew on missing him [Steve had left the band at this point – Ed], but it’s not real specific about it.”Bruce Springsteen (485)

With Every Wish

“When you’re a kid, you have a dream and the way you imagine it is really without complications. When you get older, the trickiest thing is not to give in to cynicism, and you get to an age, particularly in 1992 in this country or in England, where you don’t have the time to spare. You have to understand the limitations of your own life and keep pushing through it. That’s what “With Every Wish” is about, keeping on moving forward.”Bruce Springsteen (486)

I Wish I Were Blind

“It’s about that sinking feeling. There’s a world of love, a world of beauty, a world of fear, and a world of loss and they are the same world and that person is wending his way through that maze and at that moment he’s very in touch with both of those things. That song gets that picture.”Bruce Springsteen (486)

Blood Brothers

“”Blood Brothers” was about trying to understand the meaning of friendship as you grow older. I guess I wrote it the night before I went in the studio with the band, and I was trying to sort out what I was doing and what those relationships meant to me now and what those types of friendships mean as a person moves through life. Basically, I guess I always felt that the friendships, loyalties, and relationships are the bonds that keep you from slipping into the abyss of self-destructiveness. So with that song, I was trying to sort out the role that those deep friendships played in my life.”Bruce Springsteen (487)

Independence Day

“A late night, very intimate conversation between two people. So that brings you in right away. It’s part of a series of songs that I wrote about my dad that weren’t completely autobiographical but were emotionally autobiographical. He’s leaving but he’s looking for something, he’s leaving with purpose. He’s trying to find those things that give him impact and presence. It was just a discussion, we’ve reached some understanding of who your parents are and their humanity. And your own also, that you’re going to take different paths. It’s a song that’s quite without bitterness – some regret and some sad understanding and also the exhilaration of being set free.”Bruce Springsteen (663)

Point Blank

“The idea of losing someone, in that way, we’ve all lost friends and partners. You know somebody’s there and then they’re just gone. That song makes its bones in the last verse where I really think it grabs people. When I nailed that verse, I nailed the song.”Bruce Springsteen (663)
“[Spoken in concert: he introduces a “new song that I wrote right after I finished Darkness. It’s called ‘Point Blank’, and it’s about being trapped.” And he tells a story of a friend of his who has to work two jobs, as does her husband, to make ends meet, and “they’re still trying to take the couple’s house away” – Ed].”Bruce Springsteen (979)

Wreck On The Highway

“It ended up closing the record [The River – Ed]. It was love and death, life and death. I wanted the record to break down to that at the end. You have your love song, “Drive All Night’ and then there’s just this quiet reckoning that this character has internally on a particular evening when what’s at stake in life is made vivid to them. I just wanted to leave the listeners to their thoughts.”Bruce Springsteen (663)
“My character confronts death and an adult life where time is finite. On a rainy night he witnesses a fatal accident. He drives home, and lying awake next to his lover, he realizes you have a limited number of opportunities to love someone, to do your work, to be part of something, to parent your children, to do something good.”Bruce Springsteen (1193)

Tunnel Of Love (The Album)

“The twin issues of love and identity for the core of “Tunnel Of Love”, but time is Tunnel’s unofficial subtext. In this life (and you only have one), you make your choices, you take your stand and you awaken from the youthful spell of “immortality” and its eternal present. You walk away from the nether land of adolescence. You name the things beyond your work that will give your life its context, meaning…and the clock starts. You walk, now, not just at your partner’s side, but alongside your own mortal self. You fight to hold on to your newfound blessings while confronting your nihilism, your destructive desire to leave it all in ruins. This struggle to uncover who I was and to reach an uneasy peace with time and death itself is at the heart of “Tunnel Of Love”.”Bruce Springsteen (1194)