I will post this in hopes it finds you well. I will include these two quotes as an introduction to what I have written. The first one is a favorite quote from a movie where a Texas law man has decided to quit working at the only thing he knows how to do. For me its connected to Western Stars...the 2nd is in my opinion the seminal moment that makes Springsteen who he is and has fueld his artistry. He would never had made Western Stars or any other of his works without this central truth. As you will see what I get from the music is an affirmation that it's ok to be at a loss. Its ok to have thse feelings and we are not alone...
The law man is eating breakfast on one of the first days hes no longer doing his life's work. He is describing a dream he had...
"Okay. Two of 'em. Both had my father. It's peculiar. I'm older now'n he ever was by twenty years. So in a sense he's the younger man. Anyway, first one I don't remember so well but it was about meetin' him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it. The second one, it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin' through the mountains of a night....goin' through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and snowin', hard ridin'. Hard country. He rode past me and kept on goin'. Never said nothin' goin' by. He just rode on past and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down...and when he rode past I seen he was carryin' fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin' on ahead and that he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. Out there up ahead." - No Contry for Old Men
Now those whose love we wanted but didn't get, we emulate them. That's the only way we have, in our power, to get the closeness and love that we needed and desired. So when I was a young man looking for a voice to meld with mine, to sing my songs and to tell my stories, well I chose my father's voice. Because there was something sacred in it to me. And when I went looking for something to wear, I put on a factory worker's clothes, because they were my dad's clothes. And all we know about manhood is what we have seen and what we have learned from our fathers, and my father was my hero. And my greatest foe. Not long after he died, I had this dream, I’m on stage, I’m in front of thousands of people, and my dad's back from the dead and he’s sitting in the audience and suddenly I'm kneeling next to him in the aisle, and for a moment we both watched the man on fire on stage. And then my dad who for years, he sat at the kitchen table, unreachable, but I was too young, I was too stupid to understand was his depression. Well I kneel next to him in the aisle, and I brush his forearm, and I say, "Look dad. That guy on stage - that's how I see you." My Father's House (Broadway 2018)
I live in a house that was purchased for me by my in-laws after I got married and had my son, we live in a small farming community and life has been good here...it is from this spot I reflect on things and listen to this music. I am now safe and sound thanks to recovery, mental health care, and the love of my family. I have been trying to make sense of what Western Stars, the movie and the record mean to me...I want to share my feelings with you guys because I have to. It means so much to me and it has sustained me and this might make sense to you. Towards the end of Bruce's autobiography he says to write your own story and as this music washes over me I have found the space to do that. You are reading this so I was happy with the result.
I grew up in chaos. My Mom was a drug addict who didnt know how to do anything and consequently, my sister and me are a bit mechanically useless. My Dad was always mad about something, seemed to be greatly dissatisfied in his life and we learned to hide. We learned to make due and found ways to relieve the pressure. Our parents divorced and we had to live with our Dad after our Mom disappeared over the summer once. She didnt come back for 15 years. I lived with my Dad and his unpredictable emotions and discovered a deep love of Springsteen music as a way to make sense of what had happened and what was happening around me. His songs were a map out of this place I found myself. The crushing hand of fate was all around, In Darkness on the Edge of Town I found my twin's confession and saw myself in it and it will always be sacred. I am here because of what this music does to me and I enjoy hearing what others feel listening to it as well...You all know my story....Western Stars came to me in a bit of a crisis moment. I am unemployed and have been having trouble finding work. My uselessness is magnified these days. This music comes to me in this moment.
I see things more clearly now that I saw the movie. I have never seen an artist bare his soul in a work so well. I see this project as a reflection of that man who needed to emulate his father. We are all in a sense that person. I have always seen his work a reflection of my life history. This record is uncanny in its ability to have found me where I live emotionally. I know My story is intertwined in the characters in all of the songs. I am the hickhiker, lost out on the road not connected to anything. The Wayfarer at once in need of connection but moved to move on. I see myself in Tucson Train and Western Stars. At one moment fleeing home to move somewhere hoping to find redemption. To be honest, the train we are left waiting for is the hope that it'll all be ok some day. Western Stars is the moment you realize the cake has been baked and you are left with all there really is left is expierience things "just again" and will never be new again. That man in the song, and most likely Springsteen himself is that man to be gratful for just waking up the next morning havin made it through another night. I am feeling really similarly now emotionally in this place I am residing currently. The stunt man is the risktaker in all of us. We need to risk to be alive, but at what cost? It is a heavy one to be addicted to jaywalking despite knowing the pain of getting hit or falling. But the freedom of the fall is magic as I fly through the air. Chasing wild horses is my current favorite as I have been an angry or sad person for so long. I regret what that has stolen from me. The final three pieces on the record bring it all home...The intro to Miracle in the movie was so moving, to me it means we all have lost that ability to see things like we did when we were young, that sense of amazement and wonder is gone. So the miracle is gone and we mourn its loss. I see us all as parentless children in search of that connection after it has left us. Hello Sunshine may be one of the most beautifully simple things he has ever written. Instead of sharing his personal story in it...he wishes us well on our search for happiness.
In the end this is a love letter to all of us in our own spaces and perspectives. We are all connected to this music and I wanted to share my own personal reading on it.