"Now our city of peace has crumbled/Our book of faith's been tossed/And I'm just out here searchin'/For my own piece of the cross"—from "I'll Work For Your Love."
My Old Testament professor in seminary would tell his students on a weekly basis that "we must be careful not to say too much, but we also must be careful not to say too little" about a particular text. Such is the risk in discussing Bruce Springsteen's Magic.
While his words certainly are not scripture, many of us have used their dense layers of meaning to help reflect on our own faith. No one should be surprised. Springsteen's theology has been the subject of numerous magazine articles, books, and even seminars. Churches work his songs into their liturgies. Biblical allusions populate all his albums, with some cuts being influenced by authors such as Flannery O'Connor. At times, it seems the self-described "lapsed Catholic" has a better understanding of the gospel than many artists who perform in the Christian genre.
Musically, Springsteen draws from his rock albums to forge a pop sound on Magic that belies the anger on many cuts. The anger is directed primarily at the Bush Administration and its policies he has called "Orwellian." Even the political lyrics, however, are intended on a more personal and grander level that grows richer with multiple listenings as connections are made to previous compositions.
He continues to explore familiar biblical themes of alienation and community, grace, hope, faith, betrayal and friendship while repeatedly showing how they all are inter-related. A less thoughtful artist would be content to repeat the past, but Springsteen refuses to remain there. Age and experience offer new perspective.
In 1975, Springsteen opened his ...1