The Promise

15 Nov

Tomorrow, Bruce Springsteen will publish The Promise (The Lost Session: Darkness on The Edge Of Town).  For those of us who love Springsteen, this is one of the most long awaited days in recent memory.  The album consists of 21 never before released songs from the Darkness sessions, Bruce’s master work.


Joe Posnanski wrote a beautiful article today about the album…and specifically about what I think is Springsteen’s most personal and emotional song, “The Promise”:

Born to Run, the whole album, was about longing, open highway, the amusement park rising bold and stark, the poets who write nothing at all, the ghosts in the eyes of all the boys Mary sent away. Born to Run is about that brilliant age when you know dreams don’t come true, but you still believe they might come true FOR YOU.

And The Promise is about the every day numbing of those dreams. It is a follow-up to Thunder Road, that song about the guy who learned how to make his guitar talk, and the girl who ain’t a beauty (but hey, she’s all right), both of them, pulling out of that town full of losers, pulling out of there to win. Now, that guy’s got a job. It’s a night job. Some nights he don’t go. A friend told me, “You have to listen to this song. I can’t believe you haven’t heard this song.”


I’ll be honest, Bruce has provided the soundtrack of my life.  When I was growing up a young kid without a Dad, my brother (seven years my senior) was a passionate Springsteen fan.  Listening to Bruce was my way to connect, create shared experiences and to build a relationship as a brother and friend.  In fact, one of my most favorite memories as a child was seeing my first Springsteen concert with my big brother at the CNE in July of 1984.  Over the years, that concert has stretched into a four hour marathon of a show in my memory, but the three hours of music changed me (and my relationship with my brother) forever.  I specifically remember my brother leaning down and telling me as this song began that I would never hear anything as beautiful…


Bruce has always been the background music for the major events in my life and has always spoken to me in the right way at the right time.  It’s been a connection between my best friend and I for decades.  We might not always be in touch, but I know somewhere that he is listening to Bruce, just like I am.  The music served as a means for us to deal with grief and pain in his life when Bruce played in Buffalo last year.  After that show, I knew that he was gonna be alright, that the music and the moment helped.

I know I’m not the only one who has an emotional connection with this artist and I certainly know there are many out there who never “got it” with Bruce.  He wrote music about the everyday, the everyman, songs onto which we could project our own selves, our own trials and travails, our own struggles.  The music has always been a reflection of who we are, and for that, I’m thankful.

2 Responses to “The Promise”

  1. Thomas November 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    After first hearing a bit of Rosalita and not knowing the name of the song (Radio stations, though much better back in the day, are still useless at telling people what was played by who) I went on a search for this magical song. Thank heavens I didn’t find it on Greetings, Darkness, or Born To Run. I didn’t want to stop searching through all this ridiculously terrific music. I then received a bootleg, Piece De Resistance where I finally found the elusive Rosalita.

    But now there were more treasures to find. The catalogue an unending journey.

    Since then The Promise, was always the “dream.”

    Well, 321 shows later (the last one a week ago in Pittsburgh), a few times actually seeing The Promise performed live and over 500 recordings of shows/bootlegs squirreled away in the process; I get to dive into that beautiful package tomorrow with all the zest of that high school kid who would bike 10 miles to the flea market in hopes of finding new treasures.

    Now if he would only officially release Walking in the Streets (Lovers in the Cold)! I hear there is a “Tracks 2” in the works!!!

  2. momoftwo November 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    I just read this today and was touched. What a wonderful piece you’ve written about that time in your life and all it meant to you in so many ways then, and in so many ways over the years when a young boy needed a someone to understand. Musicians, good musicians, are also poets and speak of so much of life through their lyrics and I hope they know what an influence they have on so many people, especially that 10 year old boy and his big brother.

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