Bruce Springsteen isn’t just happy on his song, “Living Proof.” He’s ecstatic.
The song begins with a vision of his recently born first child: “a little piece of the Lord’s undying light … in his mother’s arms, it was all the beauty I could take.”
Springsteen’s doesn’t sound serene, or giddy. The music is pounding rock, and without listening to the words, you might even think he’s not happy all. There’s still strain there, and grit, as if it’s taking a huge amount of effort to dig deep enough to get in touch with this emotion.
And of course, this being a Springsteen song, he can’t keep from acknowledging the darker side of life. He marvels at the haunted man he used to be: “I crawled deep into some kind of darkness, looking to burn out every trace of who I’d been.” And he admits that life is “as fragile as each and every breath of this boy sleeping in our bed.”
Even in that glorious opening verse about his son, Springsteen added the detail that the boy was “crying like he swallowed the fiery moon.”
But by the end of one of the most emotional and cathartic songs of his career, he is still testifying to his happiness. “It’s been a long, long drought, baby, tonight the rain’s pouring down on our roof,” he sings. “Looking for a little bit of God’s mercy, I found living proof.”
Background facts: Springsteen released “Living Proof” on his 1992 album, Lucky Town. It features just two other musicians: Roy Bittan on keyboards, and Gary Mallaber on drums.
According to Brucebase, Springsteen performed it 85 times in 1992 and 1993, and 13 times since then.
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.
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence, though, depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of $10, or any other amount, to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJ Arts Daily to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.