Bruce Springsteen and New Songs
By Tracy Jessup
“Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful. For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.” — Psalm 149:1, 4
The concert film “Western Stars” recently opened in theaters nationwide. Based on Bruce Springsteen’s first studio album in five years, “Western Stars” is the only opportunity in which fans can see him playing all thirteen songs on the album. A band and a full orchestra accompany his performance under the cathedral ceiling of his historic nearly 100-year-old barn. “Touching on themes of love and loss, loneliness and family and the inexorable passage of time, the documentary film evokes the American West…weaving archival footage and Springsteen’s personal narration with a song to tell the story of Western Stars” (Movie Details, AMC app).
Springsteen published a 500-page memoir, Born to Run, in 2016. In a story for Vanity Fair coinciding with the book’s release, David Kamp wrote about Springsteen’s issues with his father, Doug.
“One of the book’s most moving passages occurs a few days before the 1990 birth of Springsteen and [Patti] Scialfa’s first child, their son Evan. As was his impulsive want Doug embarked on an impromptu road trip, driving 400 miles south to Bruce’s house in Los Angeles from San Mateo, where he and Adele had made their home. Over beers at 11 A.M., Doug, uncharacteristically, made a small peace offering to his son. “Bruce, you’ve been very good to us,” he said. And then, after a pause: “And I wasn’t very good to you.”
“That was it,” Springsteen writes. “It was all that I needed, all that was necessary.”
I asked him if he ever heard the words “I love you” from his father.
“No,” he said, a little pained. “The best you could get was ‘Love you, Pops.’ [Switching to his father’s gruff voice.] ‘Eh, me, too.’ Even after he had a stroke and he’d be crying, he’d still go, ‘Me, too.’ You’d hear his voice breaking up, but he couldn’t get out the words” (October 2016).
Psalm 149 calls on God’s people to sing a new song to the Lord. Images of singing, gladness, rejoicing, dancing, and playing musical instruments express different ways in which our praise is offered to God. Verse 4 proclaims the primary reasons for our praise. The Lord “takes pleasure in his people” and the Lord “adorns the humble with victory.” God not only has told us that he loves us, but he has demonstrated his love in innumerable ways. We have not done anything to deserve God’s love and pleasure, but through Christ, God has reconciled us to himself. He has set his affection on those who recognize their utter helplessness and their need for salvation.
Hans Wiersma writes, “In Jesus, the Lord God has indeed done – and continues to do – new things: finding the lost, redeeming the worthless, forgiving the sinner, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, freeing the bound, raising the dead. Such new things deserve a new song” (workingpreacher.org, 11/7/10).
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your love and for teaching us how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to you (adapted from Psalm 40:3 The Message).
Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.
Read more Good Christian News from Dr. Jessup HERE.