Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Listening to Bruce Springsteen's latest album "Live in Dublin" or watching the concert on PBS is like attending a church revival meeting. There's a spiritually electric atmosphere on-stage along with a transcendant quality to the music and lyrics. It seems that matters of faith are on Springsteen's mind more often now that he's getting older. A brief article on "Christianity Today" confirms what I've been thinking.


The first time I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert, as a 15-year-old back in 1974, I might've called it "a religious experience." In the 16 times I've seen him since, I've often thought he resembles an evangelist on stage—whether he's extolling the virtues of rock or urging the crowd to donate to a local food bank. This guy grew up in a Catholic home and seems to understand the concepts of sin, the Cross, confession, and redemption. These themes have all shown up in his music over the years.

Springsteen told The New York Times that although he's "not a churchgoer," his music is "filled with Catholic imagery … a powerful world of potent imagery that became alive and vital and vibrant. … As I got older, I got less defensive about it. I thought, I've inherited this particular landscape, and I can build it into something of my own."

For more thoughts on the power of music - and Springsteen in particular, check out this post at Barbara Hall's blog.

I think music is one of the purest forms of reaching out. Last year I was part of a seminar in New Jersey, where all these scholars got together to talk about Bruce Springsteen. My good friend Ben Eicher spoke on one of the panels. Ben is a lawyer and Catholic scholar and a musician. Also a longtime Bruce fan. Ben said, and I'm paraphrasing, one of the biggest misconceptions about rock music is that it's about rebellion, standing alone. It's not. It's about inclusion. No one ever picked up a guitar in order to separate himself/herself from the pack. We do it because we want to belong to a pack. It's just that we want to belong to a different pack. An authentic and expressive one. When people want to be alone, they meditate and do yoga. When they want to belong, they turn up the radio real loud.


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