Bruce Springsteen Is America’s Greatest Conservative Songwriter, Part VIII: Just A Meanness In This World

SIDE NOTE:  It’s amazing how life can derail a guy’s plans.  While – as is my wont with these long series – much of the rough material was put together in October and November, I held off on actually putting it into a written form, thinking it’d give me something to do during the two-month stretch between the election and the opening of the state legislature, when I’m usually too burned out on politics to care much.

Of course, this past eight weeks of battling for the Second Amendment has derailed a bit of that plan.

But while the battle against Barack Rex carries on, it’s time to make time for the fun stuff.

Or what is for me the fun stuff, anyway.

———-

This is a quick one, though.

Throughout this series – whose subject is “why Springsteen’s music resonates with conservatives” (not, as some self-proclaimed “fact-checkers” seem intent to believe, or at least keep repeating, “Springsteen is really a conservative and doesn’t know it”) – I’ve been digging up bits and pieces and snippets of music that illustrate intersections with what “being a conservative” means, and key ideals conservatives value.

The classical cultural conservative believes that human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults; they’re a part of the human condition.  Humanity is not perfectible; we just control our base natures, with a lot of work and consultation with the higher moral order we believe exists.  .  The conservative skepticism about human nature is a stark contrast to the progressive notion that humans can be perfected, and that human nature is fundamentally a good thing.

And Springsteens’ catalog is chock full of imperfectible people and the idea that we’re born this way:  the dismal miasma of “My Father’s House”, from Nebraska:

My fathers house shines hard and bright.

It stands like a beacon calling me in the night

Calling and calling, so cold and alone

Shining cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned

Springsteen’s best music acknowledges something conservatives take as a matter of ideological gospel; all of humanity’s gonna be going to summer school for remedial ethics and morals.

One of the best – and for me, personally, most resonant – examples is “Spare Parts”, from perhaps Springsteen’s most underrated album, Tunnel of Love, a dismal tale of a misbegotten couple…:

Bobby said he’d pull out bobby stayed in

Janey had a baby – wasn’t that a sin?

They were set to marry on a summer day.

Bobby got scared and he ran away.

Jane moved in with here ma out on Shawnee Lake

She sighed “Ma, sometimes my whole life feels like one big mistake”

She settled in in a back room, time passed on

Later that winter a son came along.

Spare parts and broken hearts

Keep the world turnin’ around

…and a boyfriend who, let’s just say, did neither his gender nor his human race proud:

Now Janey walked that baby across the floor night after night

But she was a young girl and she missed the party lights.

Meanwhile in South Texas, in a dirty oil patch,

Bobby heard about his son bein’ born and swore he wasn’t ever goin’ back.

Spare parts and broken hearts

Keep the world turnin’ around

And in the face of adversity, humanity – in the form of a rumor – takes a quick glance into the face of just how awful we can be:

Janey heard about a woman over in Calverton

Put her baby in the river let the river roll on.

She looked at her boy in the crib where he lay,

got down on her knees cried till she prayed.

Mist was on the water, low run the tide.

Janey held her son down at the riverside.

Waist deep in water how bright the sun shone.

She lifted him in her arms and carried him home.

And against all that – all the handicaps that go along with being human – sometimes the best we can manage is to just not to do the wrong thing:

As he lay sleeping in her bed Janey took a look around at everything,

Went to a drawer in her bureau and got out her old engagement ring.

Took out her wedding dress, tied that ring up in it’s sash,

Went straight down to the pawn shop man and walked out with some good cold cash.

Spare parts and broken hearts

Keep the world turnin’ around

Human nature is deeply ugly.  Conservatives  - like so much of the best of Springsteen’s music – not only recognizes it, but wrestles with it constantly.

Up next: the conservative notion that freedom and the sanctity of private property are closely linked.

9 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen Is America’s Greatest Conservative Songwriter, Part VIII: Just A Meanness In This World

  1. Springsteen is an avowed liberal. He knows what the difference is between liberal and conservative, and he has chosen liberal.

    No amount of twisting or spinning will change that.

  2. Doggone has either not read the post or failed to comprehend the post. Doggone certainly fails to comprehend Springsteen’s songs.

  3. DG, I’m sorry, but you are being obtuse.

    I’ve noted several times – including in this piece, which you clearly didn’t bother reading – that the series is about resonance in music, not anyone’s personal politics.

    Seriously – you have wasted too much time.

  4. DG is an avowed dunce. She knows the difference between obtuse and insightful and has made her choice. No amount of explaining is going to change that.

  5. DG is all about shiny surfaces – she is perceptually and intellectually handicapped, er crippled… er challenged.

  6. Was Dog Gone always so dense? What part of:

    “whose subject is “why Springsteen’s music resonates with conservatives” (not, as some self-proclaimed “fact-checkers” seem intent to believe, or at least keep repeating, “Springsteen is really a conservative and doesn’t know it”)”

    does she not understand? I can see disagreeing with the notion, but it seems like she is fundamentally unable to understand the concept.

  7. Seen a man standin’ over a dead dog lyin’ in the comments of a blog
    He’s lookin’ down kinda puzzled pokin’ that dog with a stick
    Got his blog wide open, he’s waitin’ for that Fact-check link,
    Like if he stood there long enough that dog’d get up and think.

    (apologies to “Reason to Believe”)

  8. My fact-checker’s house, sir,
    stands vocal and shrill.
    I ain’t go no answer,
    and I guess I never will…

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