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Morning Song – No Surrender

September 19, 2016

I saw the last show of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s most recent tour. Maybe some day I’ll write more about the ways in which Springsteen blew up the original setlist for the night and created a radically different show that fit beautifully into the evening and the moment.

For now I’ll just note that there was a political undertone (one of several) running through much of the middle third of the show. It began (to these ears) with “No Surrender”, one of the few songs on 1984’s Born In The USA that was not a top 10 hit.

It’s a song about keeping one’s childhood dreams alive…or, more accurately, keeping one’s ability to dream alive in the face of life’s grinding realities. For Springsteen, those dreams were—and remain—primarily about believing “we could cut someplace of our own, with these drums and these guitars“.

But then there’s this final verse:

Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim;
The walls of my room are closing in;
There’s a war outside still raging,
You say it ain’t ours anymore to win;
I wanna sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover’s bed,
With a wide open country in my heart,
And these romantic dreams in my head.

It’s not political with a big “P”. It’s “little p” political, the politics of daily life. It’s the politics of keeping hope alive—not with grand public gestures, but with the small, ordinary hopes and dreams and habits that make a better future not guaranteed, but possible.

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  1. Morning Song – Long Walk Home | MassCommons

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