This is Bruce’s most ambitious stretching of his musical template on Wrecking Ball. With its hip hop Fugees-like sound and Gospel-like samples, choirs and singer Michelle Moore this is as far out an experiment as Bruce has ever done even including the horrendous 12” mix of Cover Me in the mid 80s. Does it works? Well even where it doesn’t I’ve been so disappointed with Springsteen-by-numbers these past twenty years that I’d say fair play for the courage!
I also forgive all the fancy sounds because of the content of the lyric. The record has moved through the rocky ground of a people getting battered by the thieving of bankers and though Christianity leaves shards of light across the first two thirds of Wrecking Ball it is in the last three songs where it becomes the bedrock of all hope. In Rocky Ground the call is for the shepherd to guide the people to higher ground. It is full of prayer and angels, judgement and Jesus who is overturning tables in the Temple. The song is not without some doubt and rocky ground but you sense that Wrecking Ball has turned a corner and found something to hope in that might give it confidence in what to hope for.