In 1984, before the release of the Born in the USA album, Bruce Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, suggested to Springsteen that he write one more song, one that would sort of pull the album together, and speak to his present situation. The two had built up a great rapport over the years, and so if anyone could challenge Bruce in this way, it was Landau. (It is worth noting that, since The Rising album of 2002, most of which was written in response to the 9/11 attack, Springsteen has also enjoyed a similarly productive relationship with Brenden O'Brien.) Still, it can be a bit of a gamble to expect Bruce Springsteen to come up with another song in a timely manner. He is not necessarily very predictable in this way. Many of his songs have spilled from his pen fairly quickly, while in other cases he has gone over and over a song until he felt it was right. A decade earlier, for example, he spent a full six months working on "Born To Run" in preparation for his break out album of the same title. His perfectionist, and artistic, tendencies do not make for clockwork productivity. In this case, however, it didn't take long at all. Bruce sat in his room, with a guitar, and thought about the realities of his life as a rock musician, what frustrated him about it, etc. What soon resulted was "Dancing in the Dark," an iconically Springsteen song, the depressed and frustrated lyrics of which, typically for so many of his songs, are layered, musically, by an upbeat sense of optimism, and even a sort of joy, which I think comes from his belief in human potential.
Why this bit of Springsteen history? Just for the fun of it. But also because in my present circumstances I find that I relate to this song in ways that I rarely have in the past, even down to the situation described in the first lines, of a man whose work keeps him up at night:
I get up in the evening, and I ain't got nothing to say.
I come home in the morning; I go to bed feeling the same way.
I ain't nothing but tired; man I'm just tired and bored with myself.
This will be hard for some to understand, but I'm telling you truthfully that for the past few weeks I haven't been able to spend any time online, or even look at email. At home I'm too tired, and at work, where I once was able to spend some of the quiet night shift time online, I'm not able to do so anymore, due to the practicalities of my current job. My intellectual pursuits, so vital to my life, often come into direct conflict with the quotidian requirements and realities of my workaday life. And lately it has been the latter that has utterly taken over. That's okay; I'm not complaining, only explaining that from time to time that is what happens. I apologize to anyone who has wondered about my existence. I see that I have two or three hundred emails, and I will be trying to look them over.
By the way, in the real world, where I live and work and make my way in this life, I have been greatly blessed with many friendships. These people, many of whom are getting nickel and dimed just like I am, are valuable parts of my life. They are more real to me, and mean more to me, than the Lutheran bureaucrats who believe themselves so relevant. But I digress.
I guess this post has no theological value. Just wanted to say, basically, that there are things that have kept me away (definitely not lack of things to say), and that, for now, I'm back. A blessed Pentecost octave to all.