Morning Song – The Promised Land
For nearly four decades now, the songs off Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town have served as the steely backbone of his live performances. Darkness isn’t a punk album, but it’s imbued with the spirit of defiance and determination that characterized the punk music of the late 1970s.
At last week’s show, “The Promised Land” followed immediately after “American Skin (41 Shots)“. That wasn’t the plan on the original setlist for the night, but Springsteen long ago learned the power of mixing the blues and gospel impulses.
There’s one tiny, and ambiguous, sign of hope embedded in the lyrics of “The Promised Land”. It’s in the chorus when the narrator sings, “Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man; And I believe in a promised land“.
But there’s nothing ambiguous—or tiny—about Clarence Clemons’ sax solo (at 2:26). It’s big, bold, soaring, defiant and glorious—like a ray of sunshine bursting through the dark clouds of a (finally) passing storm. It draws deeply from ancient wells to say, “we’ve survived worse, and we’ll survive this too“.