The genius of Bruce Springsteen's lyrics and why it lies in their simplicity
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Blinded by the Light, inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen, is in cinemas now.
There are a plethora of reasons why Bruce Springsteen has inspired such devotion and loyalty from his fans throughout his long and storied career. For many, he's a rock 'n roll laureate whose stories about ordinary people, Vietnam veterans and the working class have captured the joy, pain, love, loss and hope that define everyday life.
However, as he willingly admits during his Broadway performance - currently available on Netflix: "I’ve never held an honest job in my entire life. I’ve never done any hard labour. I’ve never worked nine-to-five. I’ve never worked five days a week until right now. I come from a boardwalk town that is tinged with just a little bit of fraud. So am I,” Springsteen says.
He never raced cars. He was never a street punk. He never saw the inside of a factory. And yet, he's synonymous with all of these things.
“Standing before you is a man who has become wildly and absurdly successful writing about something about which he has had absolutely no personal experience. I made it all up! That’s how good I am," Springsteen says.
Compassion, insight, and empathy.
That's the brilliant disguise of Bruce Springtseen.
In Gurinder Chadha's new film Blinded by the Light, the transformative and inspirational power of music is at the fore as The Boss' music is essential in shaping the life of a British teen of Pakistani descent growing up in the late 1980s.
It doesn't matter if you're growing up in New Jersey, Newbridge, New Delhi, or Newcastle, Springsteen's lyrics - like all great artists - speak to something universally true about the human condition.
We've all experienced love and loss, we've all checked our look in the mirror and we're all born to run somewhere.
Inspired by a true story, based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s acclaimed memoir, Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll, Blinded by the Light tells the story of Javed (Viveik Kalra), a British teen of Pakistani descent growing up in the town of Luton, England, in 1987.
Amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times, he writes poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditional father. But when a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in the powerful lyrics. As Javed discovers a cathartic outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to find the courage to express himself in his own unique voice.
If you're interested, our full review of the film is here, but it really does capture the spirit of what makes Springsteen's music so unique and is a real treat for anyone that loses themselves in the universality of The Boss' words.
Ever find yourself in need of inspiration, or a kick in the arse? Well, "you can't start a fire without a spark".
Stuck in a relationship where you're unsure whether to stick or twist? It's always worth asking yourself if you can "learn to live with what you can't rise above".
Have you been treated like shit at work, feel completely under-appreciated, and just need to wallow for a bit? We've all felt like "a dog that's been beat too much, 'til you spend half your life just coverin' up."
Struggling with a decision to make, or feeling like you're having the life slowly strangled out of you? I'd direct you to this passage from Darkness on the Edge of Town: "Everybody's got a secret, sonny, something that they just can't face, some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it, they carry it with them every step that they take, 'til some day they just cut it loose, cut it loose or let it drag 'em down".
Make no mistake about it, Blinded by the light is a film for people heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen's lyrics.
This sense of shared experience and identity is something that really inspired Gurinder Chadha to make the film.
"What I love so much about the man and what I find very moving is that he started off as a kid - like the kid in my movie - who's having a rough time in New Jersey," Chadha told JOE.
"He wants to get out and all his songs are about getting out, you know 'Born To Run,' 'Dancing in the Dark'. He wants to get out of this city, head on the highway and never look back. Then, when you see him now, he still lives in Jersey and he's all about acceptance. He's struggled too. He struggled with depression and the trappings of fame because he still likes to be an ordinary person like all of us."
Like Sing Street, the film is a feelgood tribute to the power of music but Chadha doesn't shy away from the bleaker aspects of life under the Thatcher regime that defined the late '80s in Britain.
Unemployment, racism, and violence are prominent; however, the director feels that these are all essential to the core philosophy of Bruce Springtseen. Life can be shit; revel in the moments of joy that you can find.
"His famous line 'nobody wins unless we all win' just encapsulates him," Chadha added.
"What I find very moving now about his lyrics is that they're coming from someone who's saying 'life is not easy, life is a struggle but somewhere in this struggle, find your magic moments'. Whether it's a Mary, or a Sherry darling, you know, one of these women that he sings about, or something as simple as the sun coming through which he sings about on on a track on his new album, Hello Sunshine. Just find these moments of life that seem like they're magic in a sea of struggle. I think that's very accurate to some people."
That's why he's The Boss.
Blinded by the Light is now available to watch in Irish cinemas.
Clip via Entertainment One UK
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