Lyric For The Day 27.4.12 from Freedom Now by Tracy Chapman

Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball song by song - Land Of Hopes And Dreams

Wrecking Ball Back

(here is my song by song on Land Of Hopes and Dreams... It takes excerpts from my book The Rock Cries where an entire chapter takes the title of this song... and adds my up to date thoughts of the Wrecking Ball version...)

The first time I heard Springsteen's Land Of Hopes and Dreams was way back in 1999, thirteen years before a studio version would be released. At that concert in Dublin it was the epiphany, the surprise, the twist in the tale. Land Of Hopes and Dreams, the brand new encore became more like a closing hymn and left me reassessing this gig and Springsteen’s career in the most spiritual of ways. The song has two much older brothers. Curtis Maysfield’s People Get Ready has been the subject of cover versions from Bob Dylan to U2 to Jeff beck and Rod Stewart and Springsteen was readily acknowledging the relationship by dropping bits of it into Land Of Hopes and Dreams on his 2003 tour. Woody Guthrie starts and ends his book Bound For Glory with the template the Springsteen uses. Interestingly though Guthrie’s train “don’t carry no gamblers/Liars thieves and big-shot ramblers.” Bruce gets his Christian grace theology a whole lot better as his train picks up passengers on its road to glory, heaven, another land where, saints, sinners, losers, winners, whores, gamblers and as Dylan put it in another sibling of the song, “every hung out person in the whole wide universe” would hear the chimes of freedom crashing. Springsteen of course sang that Dylan song as the theme tune of the 1988 Amnesty Tour.


This train…
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This train
Carries whores and gamblers
This train
Carries lost souls
This train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This train
Faith will be rewarded
This train
Hear the steal wheels singing
This train
Bells of freedom ringing…

Springtseen's train is actually full of every character and song that Springsteen has ever written about. Between him and Tom Waits they have been the two songwriters to most poetise the kind of marginalized people that Jesus sought out and had most time for. They have on the whole given these characters the very sympathy and hope that Jesus did. Just as Jesus never judged them or damned them to hell the way he did the religious and self righteous. And here they all are filling the carriages and heading towards the light leaving all that darkness in albums gone by, heading for the place where the character in The Ghost Of Tom Joad was waiting for a time “when the first would be last and the last would be first.”


The soul call start and the addition of Gospel choir in the studio version on Wrecking Ball sets the song beautifully into its genre. This was Springsteen looking back at the Negro Spirituals before he he got to singing all the songs from that genre during The Seeger Sessions in 2005. Like the Spirituals it conjures an alternative imagining of the future that chnages the dignity of the marginalised in this world. It is where eschatology meets rock n roll and those two things could never have got onto the same tram line without the Negro Spiritual. It reverberates with hope and justice and God's good grace. It is I believe one of his finest moments and it took a long time for him to find a place on a record for it to fit. It fits wonderfully on Wrecking Ball as we have come out of the record's darkness and through Rocky Ground we head for the

"People get ready

You just thank the Lord"

repeat to fade...




Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)