One of the most haunting songs on Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising album — and that’s saying a lot — is “Paradise,” which finds The Boss at his most somber and philosophical. It’s dark, but ultimately as life-affirming as anything else on the album, and shows how riveting he can be in a minimalistic musical setting.
In a 2002 interview with Uncut magazine, he talked very specifically about what inspired the song. The first part is about a suicide bomber who is hoping to achieve paradise after death. The second part is about a woman whose husband was killed on 9/11; she’s dreaming of being reunited with him, after death, as a kind of paradise.
The song hinges on the third part, which Springsteen calls a “survivor’s verse” in the Uncut interview. Someone comes close to drowning, and as he or she does so, “I see you on the other side/I search for the peace in your eyes.” But those eyes are “as empty as paradise,” Springsteen sings, and the song ends with the person coming above the water and feeling the sun on his or her face.
“There’s a lot of different ways people could interpret it,” Springsteen told Uncut. “I always felt it was, ‘Hey, life is here. It’s all you have and it’s here and now.’ ”
“Paradise” is the second-to-last song on The Rising, appearing after the title track and before “My City of Ruins.” It sustains the intensity of Springsteen’s most serious, purposeful album while also providing a bit of a breather between those two more rousing songs.
Background facts: “Paradise” is from Springsteen’s 2002 album, The Rising. According to Brucebase, it was performed 15 times in concert between 2002 and 2005.
On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.
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