Wednesday, January 02, 2013

One Step Up

Ever hear a song a million times, then hear it again only to hear it differently?

If it has happened to you, then you know what I'm talking about.

I was in the car listening to E Street Radio on Sirius XM.  For those who don't know, that's Bruce Springsteen's channel.  It's all-Bruce, all the time*.  Concerts, covers, duets, rarities, bootlegs and the album tracks.  You can hear it all.

* Why there isn't a Beatles channel is beyond puzzling.  There's Elvis, Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffet, and the Grateful Dead.  Even a very poorly run Frank Sinatra channel.  I mean...really?  No Beatles channel?

Today, perhaps in an all-too-pensive mood, I heard "One Step Up", a popular track from the Boss's 1987 effort Tunnel of Love.  I'd heard the song so many times, and I knew it had a lot to do with what was going on with Springsteen's collapsing marriage to actress Julianne Phillips.   There's a lot of deep stuff going on in those songs on the album.  I highlighted the title track once before.

It is easy to dismiss "One Step Up" due to its Adult Contemporary-friendly sound, but the lyrics are very powerful.  The depth of the metaphors for the narrator are quite striking.  The furnace isn't firing.  The Ford won't start.  The bird won't sing.  The church bells aren't ringing.  Should he cheat?  But he dreams about dancing with his wife.

It struck me today what an amazing song it is.  The depth of the collapse of his marriage, coupled with not liking what he sees in the mirror.

The ability to write these types of stories and create these types of characters is part of what makes Bruce Springsteen a truly national treasure in the legend of Woody Guthrie, and why he has so many fans.

And, yeah, count this as a "Rule 55."

Oh, before we step away from this, have a read of this post from Joe Posnanski.  It's about Bruce.  Sort of.  But also about shaves in Atlanta.  And giving the maximum effort.  Trust me on this one.  It's worth reading.

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