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Born to Run in the U.S.A.

Well, here it is: Another summer...

As you can guess by the title of this blog post, I am waist-deep in all things Springsteen. The chapter I am working on (that I nearly finished last summer) examines 80s American society and how pop music observed it through the lenses of race, gender, and class. As The Boss figures into this, I have been researching interview archives, reading his autobiography, watching old concert footage, and re-listening to the Renegades podcast he did with President Obama.

This would typically be a productive period for me. Honestly, finding the time to write has been hard lately - especially the last six months. Finding the will to write has proved even more difficult. The narrative arc of my book has been upended in a significant way in terms of my faith journey. What was always shaping up to be the conclusion of my story has proved to be less of an oasis and more of a mirage. It's been very depressing and I am still trying to process it and figure out what it means to how this book is ultimately written.

So, Bruce has been helping me. Within many of his best songs are people either running from something - fear, doubt, the truth, poverty, or cruelty - or to something like a friend, lover, an opportunity, or a significant place. So I find myself running all over; from dissolution to detachment, from hope to hopelessness, and from anger to joy. But my story (and hopefully all of our stories) is one of evolution. Change is unavoidable, right? Thoughts, beliefs, and plans should always be written in pencil, rather than carved in stone.

In diving into and exploring Springsteen's evolution from artist to activist, I came across a quote of his that I wanted to share with you. It's from 1987:

"The idea of America as a family is naive, maybe sentimental or simplistic but it’s a good idea. And if people are sick and hurting and lost, I guess it falls on everybody to address those problems in some fashion. Because injustice, and the price of that injustice, falls on everyone’s heads. The economic injustice falls on everybody’s head and steals everyone’s freedom. Your wife can’t walk down the street at night. People keep guns in their homes. They live with a greater sense of apprehension, anxiety and fear than they would in a more just and open society. It’s not an accident, and it’s not simply that there are ‘bad’ people out there. It’s an inbred part of the way that we are all living: It’s a product of what we have accepted, what we have acceded to. And whether we mean it or not, our silence has spoken for us in some fashion.”

This idea of the common good was just barely coming into focus for me as a 15 year old in 1987. Thirty-five years later, I'm still coming to terms with the implications of injustice and the role that my silence or inaction can play.

At any rate, thanks for reading. I'll try to post more than once a year. That's a wee bit pathetic. Feel free to share your thoughts or comment. It's always good to hear from you in this space. Oh, and by the way Bruce is coming to town in March 2023. I have never seen him live. I know that my renewed appreciation for him as a person will make it a special show for me. Maybe I'll see you there?



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