Friday, May 22, 2009

Washing These Sins From My Hands

In the wake of the success of his double album "The River", Bruce Springsteen appeared to retreat quite a bit commercially. Instead of following up the album that produced his highest charting single (as of that date) "Hungry Heart" with another full band album, he released the dark and brooding "Nebraska", which he recorded by himself at home using his 4 track recording equipment. Legend has it that he did not intend to release the record as a solo project but when he tried to teach them to his fellow E Streeters, he felt the full band treatment robbed the songs of their grit and their soul. So he scrapped the full band treatment and ultimately released commercially the songs he had recorded quietly, at home - alone.


Nebraska is - to my ear - one of Springsteen's better efforts. It is a record painted in dark, deep brush strokes. While there is not a track on it that I do not like, my favorite story is the one told on "My Father's House". In it, the narrator tells the story of his desperate attempt at atonement - his attempt to make amends for unspecified sins and his attempt to make peace with his father. In the end, in spite of his best efforts, he fails:


My father's 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 has said frequently through the years that his dark side is his inheritance from his father's side - the Irish side of the family. We are a melancholy bunch, the Irish. And haunted we often are by failed opportunities and squandered chances.


And for quite some time since the calendar peeled '08 away in favor of '09, I was feeling the pinch. Candidly, I felt at times as if I had dropped into a hole and regardless of what I tried to do to pull myself out of it, the deeper into it I fell. Had I been able to gauge its depth I might have been able to tell whether I was closer to its bottom or its top. I could not so I did not. Instead I just kept falling.


And as suddenly as I had fallen into my downward spiral, an opportunity presented itself at redemption. Whether I did anything to deserve it is a question for others to answer. Whether I have ever done anything - stacking one atop of another all that I have done thru the first 42 years of my life - to deserve it is as well. But here it is. And so I go. Thank you Professor Peabody for working out the kinks in the way back machine.


Today marks the final day of my four month detour. And Tuesday marks the first day back on
the path I was on before I ran squarely into the tree located between the tines of the road's fork.
And in between, we have reached Memorial Day. The unofficial start of Summer. My bride and I will spend a part of our holiday weekend in the company of good friends watching Springsteen and the E Street Band put the bow on the first U.S. leg of their world tour.

Summer is here indeed. And the time is most certainly right.

-AK

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