Analysis Of Bruce Springsteen's Song Devils & Dust

2238 words - 9 pages

Analysis of Bruce Springsteen's Song "Devils & Dust"

In times of war it is quite common for people to start questioning their values and their actions and be unsure of the path they are taking. This is common because to protect our values we often are told that we have to take actions that conflict with those values. One example would be how to protect our liberties we must sometimes restrain those liberties during treacherous times. However, the ultimate question is whether or not going against the very values we stand for is a hypocritical and wrongful action plan. Bruce Springsteen approaches this very issue in his song “Devils & Dust”, from the CD with the same title, and he subtly criticizes how the United States is betraying its values.

Springsteen wrote “Devils & Dust” during the Iraq War. He has been openly against the war and has been quoted saying to Rolling Stone, “As the saying goes, "The first casualty of war is truth." I felt that the Bush doctrine of pre-emption was dangerous foreign policy. I don't think it has made America safer.” The song itself could be interpreted as a soldier’s point of view about the war but overall it stands as a critique on our society betraying its own principles. The first couple of verses in the song already evoke the image of a soldier stuck in a war. “I got my finger on the trigger / But I don’t know who to trust” could be understood as a soldier’s experience in war but it could also have a deeper meaning. It could also signify that our society has to make these important choices that will end up affecting people’s lives but it is all too ambiguous, there just isn’t any certainty. We are left with the desperate feeling of not knowing what to do, not knowing what the right choice is. The next couple of verses show how hard it actually is to trust people in these times and how troubled everyone, be they an enemy or an ally, is. The refrain goes like this, “When I look into your eyes / There’s just devils and dust”. Eyes are often used in poetry and in popular culture as a path to see what somebody really feels and how that person is really like in the inside. If in a person’s eyes “there’s just devils and dust” it shows that that person is troubled, haunted, and desolated. The visual image of “devils and dust” illustrates a godforsaken place, which is what that person’s soul has become. Following that the speaker tells his friend, Bobby, how they are a “long, long way from home”. These verses can have two meanings: they can refer to a soldier in a war (thus the relation with the Iraq War) or they could mean that we have strayed so far away from our values, from what we were founded upon, that this is no longer home, it is now a strange place. Many people argue, and with some justification, that the United States in the past years is becoming less and less like the country it was founded to be. The verse, “I feel a dirty wind blowing” once more takes us to the Iraq War...

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