I’m watching Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on Palladia, a concert that aired in 2000. I’ve been a fan on and off since I was young. Some of his stuff I love, some I think is shit, but he’s a singular artist who won’t lose sleep over my opinion.
Tonight he’s singing a song about a train for the broken-hearted, for those whose faith will be rewarded, for criminals and junkies, saints and sinners, and so on. His train sounds like my neighborhood. Springsteen is least convincing doing the rah-rah songs. His real art is a lot darker, he’s at his best when he’s harrowing: Streets of Philadelphia, One Step Up and Two Steps Back, Tunnel of Love, Nebraska, and so on. A remnant of his boyhood Catholicism can be found in his songs about Mary, and some of his religious imagery – it’s not a central part of his art, more like window dressing.
The words that really hit me tonight are from a song I never really cared for: Darkness on the Edge of Town: “I lost my faith when I lost my wife..I’ll pay the cost for wanting what can only be found in the darkness on the edge of town…”
I saw my ex-wife today and felt the usual revulsion, and wonder that we had been together so long. She took something from me when she left, maybe before she left. I’m not sure what it was, but something is missing besides her. It’s a dream I had about a marriage that lasts, about both spouses being faithful to each other. Naive, to be sure, but a dream nevertheless, and a dream that ended in a nightmare that has not ended.
Here’s a train for the broken-hearted, for those whose faith will be rewarded. Boss, show me that train, lets go for a ride. And lets keep the pledge each band member made to each other at the end of the concert: “I’ll wait for you, and if I fall behind, wait for me.”