Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” Echoes BITUSA

20 01 2012

*Forewarning, this has nothing to do with skiing, but rather my other true passion – Bruce Springsteen.

After three long years and two E-Street losses, The Boss returns with his 17th studio album, Wrecking Ball. Those fortunate enough to have heard the album claim it’s “his angriest yet.” This comes as no surprise. Bruce isn’t one to shy away from issues of politics, social justice, and socioeconomic struggle. It anything, Bruce is a political activist using Rock & Roll as a medium to share a message.

The title and chorus of his first single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” sounds optimistic and utterly patriotic – just what we need in this shaky climate of war, recession, and uncertainty. Right? No. Bruce is never that simplistic.

Photo courtesy Backstreets.com

The phrase “we take care of our own” is associated with American patriotism. On the same caliber of “united we stand,” this phrase is one that many American’s hold dear proudly hold to be true. Hmm, maybe Gingrich will use this as him campaign anthem. On second thought, he might want to listen to the lyrics more closely.

I can’t help but be reminded of “Born in the USA” when listening to this new track. What at first sounds like a pro-American anthem, is actually riddled with the misfortune and suffocating circumstances of being born in America (being forced to fight in Vietnam, joblessness, losing loved ones to war, etc.) Bruce isn’t praising our country in BITUSA, rather, he is excavating the harsh realities and truths that so many of use are too prideful to acknowledge and accept.

“We Take Care of Out Own,” appears to be sending a similar message. While the track is charged with phrases associated with American patriotism (“the bugle blown,” “the work that will set my hands free, my soul free,” “sea to shinning sea,” and “wherever this flag’s flown”), Bruce is telling us that these phrases stand on hallow ground. They’re claims, not realities.

It’s possible Bruce is addressing the U.S. government and our political leaders with this message. Yet, it may also be a cry to fellow Americans – if our government and leaders cannot take care of us then we must do what is within our power to take care of one another.

After listening a few times, the title begins to sting. We aren’t being praised. This song isn’t a pat on the back. It’s a brutal reality check, implying that our message has been soiled and swept under the rug.

Echoing BITUSA, “We Take Care of Our Own,” seizes ideals that we hoist for the world to see, scratches off the gild, and exposes the stark reality of their core. I’m not suggesting that American’s have fallen short. I don’t believe Bruce is either. Rather, I believe he is directing his message to our leaders and those of us who blindly follow them.

      We yelled ‘help’ but the cavalry stayed home,

      There ain’t no one hearing the bugle blown,

      We take care of our own,

In my eyes, Bruce’s message is as simple as, “you aren’t practicing what you preach.”

The political undertones of his album Magic were indirect hits to the Bush administration, the War in Iraq, and other acts that the American government has committed against foreign countries and its own people. I believe his latest album, Wrecking Ball, is going to extrapolate these realities. The track lists suggests this and knowing The Boss, he will once again echo the cries and concerns of his countrymen.

I’ve been knockin’ on the door that holds the throne
I’ve been lookin’ for the map that leads me home
I’ve been stumblin’ on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

From Chicago to New Orleans
From the muscle to the bone
From the shotgun shack to the Superdome
We yelled “help” but the cavalry stayed home
There ain’t no-one hearing the bugle blown
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

Where the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where the hearts, that run over with mercy
Where’s the love that has not forsaken me
Where’s the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where’s the spirit that’ll reign, reign over me
Where’s the promise, from sea to shining sea
Where’s the promise, from sea to shining sea
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown

We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

For the latest on Springsteen and the E-Street Band visit Backstreets.com.

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