Bruce Springsteen’s Human Touch and Lucky Town albums, released simultaneously in 1992, may be his two most optimistic collections of songs. With “My Beautiful Reward,” though — the sweet and soulful country-rock song (kind of reminiscent of The Byrds’ “Ballad of Easy Rider”) that closes Lucky Town — he makes it clear that his days of searching aren’t over.
That beautiful reward may still be out there, he seems to be saying, but it’s not yet in his grasp.
He sings of trying to attain fulfillment via material things (“gold and diamond rings”), but he’s still searching.
He sings of trying to attain it via spirituality (“From a house on a hill a sacred light shines/I walk through these rooms but none of them are mine”), but he’s still searching.
He sings of trying to attain it via love (“Your hair shone in the sun, I was so high I was the lucky one”), but then “I came crashing down like a drunk on a barroom floor.”
The verse ends with a primal image: He sees himself as a bird, “flyin’ high over gray field.”
And, yes, he’s still searching.
It doesn’t seem to be a restless search. He’s calm, and accepts his defeats with dignity. But it’s still a search.
Background facts: Springsteen released “My Beautiful Reward” on his 1992 album Lucky Town. He is backed by Ian McLagan (of The Faces and The Small Faces) on organ, and Gary Mallabar on drums.
According to Brucebase, he performed it 127 times between 1992 and 2014. Check out a 2005 version, below, on which he accompanies himself on pump organ and harmonica.
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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