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Purpose of Some Songs


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Commie Tommy was on ESR couple days ago. Played a bunch of what he called "darker tunes" He introduced these two songs as a song about a serial killer and one about a mass murderer. Nebraska and Paradise! He also played 41 shots. 

My question is besides telling a couple great stories with great music, what am I suppose to get out of these tunes? Am I suppose to feel sorry for a serial killer or a mass murderer? I do feel sorry for what happened to Charles in 41 Shots. 

I just don't get the message in some tunes, or why would Bruce write a song about such things, especially Paradise on his 911 album. To me 41 shots has no political message. Code of Silence has more of a political message about basically the same thing. Maybe I'm wrong here, I would like to here what you have to say. 

This isn't meant to be a debate, but just something to talk about. Is there something I'm missing here? We can also talk about other tunes with questionable meanings. 

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I view Paradise as Bruce doing what he does best and i really love it

He takes darkness to a whole new level 

I don't see it as overly political apart from the obvious terrorist element 

The young girl with the school bag is as much a victim as everyone else 

Bruce watching and documenting through his narrative but without judgement  - that's Nebraska too

He humanizes his subjects

(Not that suicide bombers and mass murderers arnt fucking mental nut cases)

 

One of the songs i like the best in this vain is hay blue eyes - its quite  menacing

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32 minutes ago, Daisey Jeep said:

He humanizes his subjects

(Not that suicide bombers and mass murderers arnt fucking mental nut cases)

Why does he feel the need to humanize them? I still can't figure out why would he put Paradise on The Rising. I thought The Rising was to lift us up, not remind us what happened? 

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7 minutes ago, Jimmy James said:

Why does he feel the need to humanize them? I still can't figure out why would he put Paradise on The Rising. I thought The Rising was to lift us up, not remind us what happened? 

Hmmmm

Valid point there Jimmy

But The rising does  have a lot going on in that record 

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You may be missing that Paradise has two different points of view. The first is an apparent suicide bomber, the second and the actual primary POV for the song is a victim who lost a loved one (on 9/11 being the intent I assume).

I think seeing mass murderers as humans making a horrible choice instead of animals or monsters is important. Beasts can be hunted and monsters slain, but what do we do with humans? The bomber in the song is apparently a loving mother or father, making the choice to sacrifice their life to do mass murder...what drives that choice? I think it is a question worth asking. 

Also quick correction on Nebraska: Starkweather is a spree killer, not a serial killer. Different things. And you aren't supposed to feel much sympathy for him, you're just supposed to stare into the abyss of "the meanness in this world."

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2 hours ago, HeroOfVirtue said:

You may be missing that Paradise has two different points of view. The first is an apparent suicide bomber, the second and the actual primary POV for the song is a victim who lost a loved one (on 9/11 being the intent I assume).

I think seeing mass murderers as humans making a horrible choice instead of animals or monsters is important. Beasts can be hunted and monsters slain, but what do we do with humans? The bomber in the song is apparently a loving mother or father, making the choice to sacrifice their life to do mass murder...what drives that choice? I think it is a question worth asking. 

Also quick correction on Nebraska: Starkweather is a spree killer, not a serial killer. Different things. And you aren't supposed to feel much sympathy for him, you're just supposed to stare into the abyss of "the meanness in this world."

Nice to see you Hero

Never heard of a spree killer before but that makes sence

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9 hours ago, Jimmy James said:

Commie Tommy was on ESR couple days ago. Played a bunch of what he called "darker tunes" He introduced these two songs as a song about a serial killer and one about a mass murderer. Nebraska and Paradise! He also played 41 shots. 

My question is besides telling a couple great stories with great music, what am I suppose to get out of these tunes? Am I suppose to feel sorry for a serial killer or a mass murderer? I do feel sorry for what happened to Charles in 41 Shots. 

I just don't get the message in some tunes, or why would Bruce write a song about such things, especially Paradise on his 911 album. To me 41 shots has no political message. Code of Silence has more of a political message about basically the same thing. Maybe I'm wrong here, I would like to here what you have to say. 

This isn't meant to be a debate, but just something to talk about. Is there something I'm missing here? We can also talk about other tunes with questionable meanings. 

Great art doesn't need a purpose.  Nebraska was inspired by the Terrence Malick film "Badlands", which in turn was based on true events. What was the purpose of the film? Maybe none. It was just a great film

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I’ve always seen ‘paradise’ as having three rather than two character. The suicide bomber, the widow, and the person wanting to drown himself/herself. All three verses of the song (to a different degree) underline the absurdity of giving living for a ‘paradise’ out of this world. The final lines of the song, with the character making surface again (an thus renoucing to his/her tragic plans) are the key of the song. You rise up by keeping on living, not by killing others or yourself in the name of an “empty paradise”.

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49 minutes ago, Frank said:

You rise up by keeping on living, not by killing others or yourself in the name of an “empty paradise”.

Some didn't have a choice - well, Sophie's Choice (dire, either way).  Kill people or have your own family killed if you don't?  

It's not all clear-cut.  

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5 minutes ago, Eileen said:

Some didn't have a choice - well, Sophie's Choice (dire, either way).  Kill people or have your own family killed if you don't?  

It's not all clear-cut.  

Ok, but it wasn’t done in the name of an hypothetical (at best) paradise in another hypothetical (at best) realm of our life.

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Just now, Frank said:

Ok, but it wasn’t done in the name of an hypothetical (at best) paradise in another hypothetical (at best) realm of our life.

It's just a song? :)

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Its one of my favourites but its also one i have on my limit list (like gin in the winter being a no-no) along with the Joad album and The Promise 

Its just a bit too dark in a kind of unhealthy hypnotic kind of way  on a not so great day 

That's actually high praise - i love the dark stuff but its best not to wallow in it 

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Regarding "Paradise"...

Bruce said in an interview: "...That transition point between life and death. When I wrote 'Paradise', I was looking for something kind of really quiet, and I think it was the week there'd been the teenage girl suicide bombers. It was devastating, and so the first verse came out of thinking about that, the loss of life and the false paradise. Then I'd met a woman who had lost her husband at the Pentagon, and she came to Asbury one night, and they were just long-time fans I guess. I think I was thinking of that woman when I wrote the song, which is why it switches from Virginia, because I wanted something that was outside the United States, the larger feeling of the effect of what's going on in the world outside the States."

In the beginning of "Paradise," you get a sense of what could drive you into senseless violence. The image of a school bag being used for carrying a bomb (I always think it's a school bag of a child who might have been killed in a war or an attack from the enemy side). The beginning of "Paradise" also serves, in my opinion, as a warning for those hurt by the tragedy of 9/11 to not get consumed by grief and anger in the way the person in the beginning is.

 

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11 minutes ago, Eileen said:

It's just a song? :)

Indeed, it is just a song. But why did you mention Sophie’s choice in your previous reply then? :)

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I think alot of it is Bruce trying to make sense of the world in someway,we might talk things through with people he does it through song,he sees the world & he writes about it,asks why such things happen,the darkness in people,the love in people,why people do what they do,trying to understand it,how people learn to live with what they can't rise above.

 

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11 hours ago, Jimmy James said:

Commie Tommy was on ESR couple days ago. Played a bunch of what he called "darker tunes" He introduced these two songs as a song about a serial killer and one about a mass murderer. Nebraska and Paradise! He also played 41 shots. 

My question is besides telling a couple great stories with great music, what am I suppose to get out of these tunes? Am I suppose to feel sorry for a serial killer or a mass murderer? I do feel sorry for what happened to Charles in 41 Shots. 

I just don't get the message in some tunes, or why would Bruce write a song about such things, especially Paradise on his 911 album. To me 41 shots has no political message. Code of Silence has more of a political message about basically the same thing. Maybe I'm wrong here, I would like to here what you have to say. 

This isn't meant to be a debate, but just something to talk about. Is there something I'm missing here? We can also talk about other tunes with questionable meanings. 

My heart used to sink when I was at a Springsteen gig and he'd do Nebraska. It's a dire song. Boring rehash of the tune to This Land is Your Land with a lyric that's basically a summary of a Terence Mallick movie. Apparently the 'meanness in this world' line is what really gets  the literary intellectuals excited.  It's so 'existential' etc. It's pants. And yes the tone of the song I believe is sympathetic to the killer. I always hated it and I always will. 

I don't like Paradise much either. Starts with an interesting verse and then wanders off into third rate poetry about rivers and such. 

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4 hours ago, Demos said:

My heart used to sink when I was at a Springsteen gig and he'd do Nebraska. It's a dire song. Boring rehash of the tune to This Land is Your Land with a lyric that's basically a summary of a Terence Mallick movie. Apparently the 'meanness in this world' line is what really gets  the literary intellectuals excited.  It's so 'existential' etc. It's pants. And yes the tone of the song I believe is sympathetic to the killer. I always hated it and I always will. 

I don't like Paradise much either. Starts with an interesting verse and then wanders off into third rate poetry about rivers and such. 

Well, the darkest numbers on the River, and their natural suite Nebraska, were the result of Bruce delving into traditional and country music, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash in particular. I think the Nebraska fully belongs to the blues and country tradition of "prison" or "criminal" music, in the vein of traditionals like Stagger (or Stack a) Lee, Robert Johnson's 32-20 Blues, Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, Bob Dylan's Ballad of Hollis Brown the Clash's I Fought the Law,  Steve Earle's John Walker's Blues and on. It's part of a specific musical genre. I don't see it as Bruce celebrating serial killers per se. 

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4 hours ago, Frank said:

Indeed, it is just a song. But why did you mention Sophie’s choice in your previous reply then? :)

I should have put 'So, are you saying' before my comment ... but I was in a rush to get my eye's tested. 

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Haven’t listened to the Rising in quite a while. I’d have to listen to Paradise again to analyze it.

I will say that I agree with you about 41 Shots. I don’t get the political angle of it either. It’s just kind a retelling of an actual incident. I never found it all that controversial or interesting, to be honest. I never really got the backlash. It also doesn’t help my view of the song that I first heard it on the Live CD where he tells the crowd to be quiet. So pompous. People paid a lot of money to go to a rock and roll concert and you’re hushing them, the same people that bought your daughter’s million dollar ‘orsey. You want quiet? Put on a Broadway show instead. Oh yeah, he’s got that now.

Code of Silence is a much better song.

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19 minutes ago, Frank said:

Well, the darkest numbers from the River, and their natural suite Nebraska, were the result of Bruce delving into traditional and country music, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash in particular. I think the Nebraska fully belongs to the blues and country tradition of "prison" or "criminal" music, in the vein of traditionals like Stagger (or Stack a) Lee, Robert Johnson's 32-20 Blues, Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, Bob Dylan's Ballad of Hollis Brown the Clash's I Fought the Law,  Steve Earle's John Walker's Blues and on. It's part of a specific musical genre. I don't see it as Bruce celebrating serial killers per se. 

All those songs you mention wipe the floor with Nebraska. I think Bruce thought he was following that tradition when he wrote it. And maybe he was but it is still a load of boring pants nonetheless. 

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19 minutes ago, Jertucky said:

Haven’t listened to the Rising in quite a while. I’d have to listen to Paradise again to analyze it.

I will say that I agree with you about 41 Shots. I don’t get the political angle of it either. It’s just kind a retelling of an actual incident. I never found it all that controversial or interesting, to be honest. I never really got the backlash. It also doesn’t help my view of the song that I first heard it on the Live CD where he tells the crowd to be quiet. So pompous. People paid a lot of money to go to a rock and roll concert and you’re hushing them, the same people that bought your daughter’s million dollar ‘orsey. You want quiet? Put on a Broadway show instead. Oh yeah, he’s got that now.

Code of Silence is a much better song.

Getting disgustingly close to "shut up and sing", Jertucky. If an artist wants arhythmic clappers and substance abusing blabbers to shut it, by all means they ought to stop them, that crap is annoying no matter what is going on onstage. I wish he would do it MORE so that the people actually there for the music could have a better time. 

As for the "controversy" surrounding American Skin, it's only "controversial" because of a group of uncriticizables that cries out that they're the Hebrews being chased out of Egypt at every opportunity. It's the least controversial song I've ever heard in my life. I sing London Bridge is falling down and rock a bye baby to my daughter and those things are waaaaaaay more controversial than whatever is supposed to be controversial about American Skin. 

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12 minutes ago, HeroOfVirtue said:

Getting disgustingly close to "shut up and sing", Jertucky. If an artist wants arhythmic clappers and substance abusing blabbers to shut it, by all means they ought to stop them, that crap is annoying no matter what is going on onstage. I wish he would do it MORE so that the people actually there for the music could have a better time. 

As for the "controversy" surrounding American Skin, it's only "controversial" because of a group of uncriticizables that cries out that they're the Hebrews being chased out of Egypt at every opportunity. It's the least controversial song I've ever heard in my life. I sing London Bridge is falling down and rock a bye baby to my daughter and those things are waaaaaaay more controversial than whatever is supposed to be controversial about American Skin. 

Disgustingly close to “shut up and sing”? I don’t really know what that means. Does that mean you think my opinion is disgusting? That’s an odd take, but have at it.

”I need some quiet” is pompous ass’ way of dictating to a crowd what they should be doing. Why doesn’t he follow it up with “Throw you hands in the air and wave them around like you just don’t care!” during Born to Run? “All the ladies in the house say hooooo!” during Jersey Girl? Is 41 a more deathly serious song than Born in the USA? Did he shush the crowds for that back in ‘84? Or did he encourage them to pump their fists while singing along and treating it like the money making anthem he played it like before complaining people treated it like an anthem and missed the point of the song?

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It means "shut up and sing" is disgusting, and what you're saying is close to that. So not disgusting but still rather smelly, in my opinion.

The most objective response I can give you is that he knew they were recording the show for release and they were clapping off beat and yelling during the intro. It's why we didn't get Blood Brothers as part of LINYC, which was a shame. 

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7 hours ago, Gretsch Country Gentleman said:

Great art doesn't need a purpose.  Nebraska was inspired by the Terrence Malick film "Badlands", which in turn was based on true events. What was the purpose of the film? Maybe none. It was just a great film

I think this is what I kind of was looking for! Not every tune needs a purpose. I get accused a lot of times of not getting the message a song is putting out! Or not listening to the lyric's? I listen to the lyric's, but I take those lyrics literally! I don't try to get more out of it than what is spoken.  

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