You know when you've got your iPod on shuffle and the song that comes up is exactly the one you need to hear? That experience is why I prefer "shuffle" to choosing my own songs. It's almost as though "random" has a kind of wisdom I don't possess; it knows what I need better than I do.
This weekend while I was cleaning and running errands, I had my player on shuffle. It's not surprising that Bruce Springsteen popped up twice; between his studio output and my bootleg collection, Bruce makes up about a tenth of my entire playlist. What was surprising was that the songs that came up were the ones I needed most to hear, the ones that spoke to me perfectly at that exact moment.
If you've been following my posts, you know this is a fairly rough time at my house, for reasons I've posted about and reasons I haven't. Fate (in the form of the iPod shuffle) doled out "Jackson Cage" first, a song about people whose lives are harder than mine, so hard in fact, that they've forgotten how to even hope for better:
Every day ends in wasted motion
Crossed swords on the killing floor
To settle back is to settle without knowing
The hard edge that your settling for.
"Jackson Cage" isn't one of my favorite songs. But this time around, hearing it was like having an old friend put an arm around my shoulders and tell me he knows what I'm going through. And the follow up? "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart":
I've been listening to Bruce Springsteen since...well, since I did the bulk of my listening on eight-track tapes. That long. But his songs are complex enough that I can hear one for the hundredth time and still pick up new subtleties in the lyrics or the music. So today, for the record, I just want to say what fans always want to say: how grateful I am for his body of work, for how sustaining it's been, for how it's provided a soundtrack for times of ecstasy and of sorrow.
Finally, I want to share one last, newer video. Bruce is about to finish up a mini tour of South America. While in Chile, he rose to the occasion (as he is rightfully famous for doing) and sang "Manifiesto," a song by Chilean poet and activist Victor Jara.