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A journey through the music of Bruce Springsteen and reflections on the execution of Nguyen Van.

A Different Kind of Listen on a Friday Morning

It is very easy to spin a CD a couple of times, profess to love it, and still move on to the next one (particularly when you have a music collection like mine).

I bought Springsteen’s 30th Anniversary edition of Born to Run the day it was released and I devoured it. I listened to it over and over out of genuine excitement and also because I was going to be participating in a wonderful two-part “Friday Morning Listen” column with Mark Saleski and Lisa McKay.

Part One.
Part Two.

I have bought and listened to a lot of CDs since I bought Born to Run but today I wound up back at work armed with it and his Essential set. I actually pumped my fist during “Born to Run” this morning. I could not sit still. I want to go… drive and I fucking hate to drive. The magic and the passion in the music ignited the “madness in my soul.”

The diversity of theme, mood, and style is one of the great strengths of his catalog. Listening to Born to Run reawakened my love for the music of Bruce Springsteen. There are songs for drinking and dancing on a Saturday night. There are songs about people and places you know. Bruce described his reunion tour with the E-Street band a few years ago as a revival (listen to “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” from Live in NYC and you will understand). Born to Run and “Rosalita” revived me this morning.

There are also songs that ask the difficult questions about our world and times. Springsteen has written about the timeless themes of love, faith, hope, fear, and loss. He has written about the timely issues such as a growing chasm between the haves and have nots, AIDS, and capital punishment. Certain world events in the past 24 hours reminded me of my need for the music of Bruce Springsteen.

Singapore executed Nguyen Tuong Van last night and the United States executed the 1,000th person since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1976. The Van case has been on my mind for a month now. I even dedicated an entire podcast to the issue of capital punishment. I struggled to find the right words to describe my thoughts and feelings. That podcast featured three Bruce Springsteen songs and they probably meant much more to the podcast than my own struggle to find the right words. Bruce already wrote them for me. I might have been better off to just shut up and play the songs (Pearl Jam, Mark Lanegan, and Bob Dylan also loaned me an assist).

I am once again at a loss for words to describe the way I feel now that it has happened. So I am doing what feels natural. I am looking for answers in the music. I needed to feel joy and have my spirit renewed. I needed to find hope and solace for the bitterness I feel. I found both in the music of Bruce Springsteen.

About Josh Hathaway

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