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The Use Of Symbolism In Bruce Springsteen's Work

1049 words - 5 pages

Bruce Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949 to working class parents in New Jersey where he was born and raised. His father, Doug Springsteen, had difficulty maintaining a steady job and his mother, Adele, worked as a secretary. Springsteen attended Catholic school and had a religious upbringing. Bruce and his father had a troublesome relationship that influenced his songwriting greatly. Bruce had stated that if his relationship with his father had been better, then “I would have written happy songs—and I tried it in the early 90’s and it didn’t work… Anyway, I put on his work clothes and went to work.”(Bruce Springsteen Biography 1) Bruce Springsteen’s songs are homage to the working class, are influenced by current events, and are full of symbolism.
“The Rising” is the story of a firefighter written in response to the September 11, 2001 attack and contains spiritual reference that show Springsteen’s religious upbringing. The album was released in 2002 and was clearly influenced by the nations mood after the terrorist attacks. “The Rising” tells the tale of a firefighter in one of the buildings trying to rescue people. “On my back’s a sixty pound stone on my shoulder a half mile line”(Springsteen) is a clear reference to a fireman’s equipment and hoses. A normal, everyday firefighter doing his job trying to save other normal everyday people that were at their place of work and were brutally attacked through no fault of their own. The song builds toward a crescendo as many voices join in, symbolic of the souls that are lost with the firefighters. Reference is made to seeing Mary in the garden, which is referring to Mary Magdalene when Jesus rose from the grave. The lyrics are haunting but the way the song is sung still leaves the listener with the hope of salvation with death. Springsteen said, “In my songs, the spiritual part, the hope part is the choruses. The blues, and your daily realities are in the details of the verses. The spiritual comes out in the choruses, which I get from Gospel music and the church.”(Bruce Springsteen Biography 1) This is certainly certainly true of the song—the chorus is reminiscent of being in church singing a gospel song.
“The River” is in the familiar theme of the workingman in hard economic times seeking a higher powers assistance. The song was released in 1979, which was a period of economic depression and high inflation for the people of the United States. Construction had been booming and now had stopped and many people were feeling defeated by their financial situation. “The River” tells the story of a boy and girl who meet in high school and fall in love. They like to hangout at a local river for fun. The river represents freedom and possibilities. The narrator and the girl had dreams of a good future but where they lived “they bring you up to do like your daddy done”(Springsteen) meaning there were not high expectations to leave the town...

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