Advent Reflection: WHO ARE YOU ELIZABETH TO?
Lyric For The Day 12.12.12 from Rocky Ground by Briuce Springsteen

Lyric For The Day 11.12.12 from No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen

No Surrender

“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 want to sleep beneath

Peaceful skies in my lover's bed

With a wide open country in my eyes

And these romantic dreams in my head

Once we made a promise we swore we'd always remember

No retreat, baby, no surrender

Blood brothers in a stormy night

With a vow to defend

No retreat, baby, no surrender”

-     From No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen

A friend (Dave Freeburn) put this lyric up on Facebook last week and it took on a whole new emphasis for me. Originally released on
Springsteen’s successful attempt at superstardom, and a compromise to his art in my opinion, No Surrender, like other good songs on Born In The USA, lost its lyrical power. If you get the chance to hear those songs done acoustically they take on a whole different resonance. Fortunately we got an official release of a stripped down version of No Surrender on the lavish Live 1975-85 package.

Yet, it still failed to connect the way it did last week. Written apparently as a blood brothers message to his old mate Little
Steven, who had headed out of the E Street Band (since restored) for a solo career, I had mistakenly confined it to a song about friendship. Of course it is but last week it became so much more.

Last week I had two situations that these lyrics pastored into. The first was for Naomi Long, an Alliance MP who was given a death threat by Protestant loyalists because her party voted for the Union Jack to be flown at Belfast City Hall only on designated days as opposed to 365 days a year. The Alliance Party actually brought the amendment that it would be flown on designated days as the Nationalist parties wanted it to never be flown at all. The Unionist politicians incited the wrath of their community to be directed at
Alliance and Naomi took the brunt of the attack. I have voted Alliance, but not always, and yet I found myself with profound respect for Naomi and her party taking this abuse unjustly. And so I sent her, on Facebook, these lyrics. It is quite ironic as the title is without doubt Northern Ireland’s most potent and well known political slogan. It has a long history of being the cry of the Protestant Unionist British against the battles of Catholic Ireland. I felt that the song was about a robust commitment to what you believe in and Naomi’s vow
to be a bridge in the chasm of a divided country deserved support.

The same day I sent it to another friend who was going through some struggles in her own life. There are times when somehow a song can give a transformative strength when you feel vulnerable, weak and tempted to simply give in. Springsteen’s song gives that strength.


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