Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bruce Springsteen dreams the impossible dream

I have been quite grouchy all week. I had to work late, which just throws all my rhythms off hard. It keeps me from writing, which doesn't help, and napping and pretty much everything.

To top it off, I forgot to order the latest Springsteen release,The Promise.

One song that won't be on it: The Impossible Dream, the song from Man of La Mancha. Elvis did it, which is cool, but not Bruce, at least not that I could find.

Of course, so many of his songs are about people who do dream impossible dreams and fight for them. I'm not sure they are successful fights, but the characters in his songs do fight

These are 10 of Bruce's Impossible Dream songs (Official releases and one song per album):

Night, Born to Run
Trying not to be too obvious, I will leave off Born to Run and Thunder Road for another song on the album. Night is short, but it is all about people surviving the workday by living after work.
And the world is busting at its seams
And you're just a prisoner of your dreams
Holding on for your life 'cause you work all day
To blow 'em away in the night.
I suspect that too often I don't blow anyone away at night. I wish I had more opportunities. Or maybe I just need a machine to have faith in, not my chair.

This Hard Land, Greatest Hits
Nothing really works for this character. The seeds he's sown have never grown. (it is a much more elegant rhyme in the song.) But you don't give up; you stay hungry!
Well if you can't make it stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive if you can
And meet me in a dream of this hard land
Car Wash, Tracks
This woman singer works at a car wash to have money to raise the kids she drops "at school in the morning" and picks "them up at Mary's just 'fore suppertime." But she still has a dream, probably an impossible one. She sings of someone showing up at the car wash and making her a singer in a nightclub.

Spare Parts, Tunnel of Love
Janey gets pregnant, her boyfriend flees and she has the baby. Then she reads about this woman who "Put her baby in the river let the river roll on." I have never been able to figure out if the baby lived, like he was abandoned in a basket that floated down the river or what. Anyway, Janey decides to do it, but changes her mind, goes home and sells her wedding dress for money to help raise the kid. I wish I felt better about her chances of success, but she is still trying.

Working on a Dream, Working on a Dream
Of all the singers, I am most hopeful for this guy. "I'm working on a dream, Though it can feel so far away." He knows it'll be hard and does not seem inclined to give up.

Maria's Bed, Devils & Dust
Then there's the guy in Maria's Bed. Most of the characters in these songs face severe uncertainty. They, and we, don't know if they succeed. But the guy knows his dream will come true if he can just make it to Maria's Bed.
I been out in the desert, doin' my time
Siftin' through the dust for fools gold, lookin' for a sign
Holy man said, "Hold on, brother, there's a light up ahead."
Ain't nothin' like the light that shines on me in Maria's bed.
My City of Ruins, The Rising
The singer doesn't give up when his city is in ruins. He prays and asks "How do I begin again?"

Land of Hope and Dreams, Live in NYC
How could this song not be on the list?
Tomorrow there'll be sunshine
And all this darkness past.
And Bruce;s train fits more into my beliefs than Woody Guthrie's glory train. I mean on Bruce's train you got "saints and sinners," "losers and winners," even "whores and gamblers." Plus, seeing this in concert allowed me to see "whores and gamblers" in sign language.

Trapped, The Essential Bruce Springsteen
I remember this from the We are the World album. It has always struck a chord with me. The character is trapped and he admits it. But he knows that "good will conquer evil" and that "Someday I'll walk out of here again." God, I hope so.

Badlands, Darkness on the Edge of Town
The granddaddy of all Bruce's dream songs, "talk about a dream/Try to make it real ..." I get goosebumps whenever I hear this in concert and you see an arena raise their hands as one when the chorus breaks out. I think this is the epitome of the Impossible Dream:
For the ones who had a notion,
a notion deep inside
That it ain't no sin
to be glad you're alive.


Anonymous said...

me? I am kind of partial to Workin on a Dream. Nice list brother.

Anonymous said...

totally agree with Emily.

Tony said...

Nothing against Workin on a Dream (or for that matter, any other Bruce stuff), but I'll take Badlands. Darkness is such a killer album! As is Nebraska on which I think you could have found a couple for this list.

Matt Trott said...

But only one from Darkness.

I guess Open All Night from Nebraska. Not sure what else. Reason to Believe? That works if you consider life itself the unbeatable foe.

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