Author Analyzes the Theologies Behind Bruce Springsteen's Music

Steve Adubato sits down with Rutgers Professor, Dr. Azzan Yadin-Israel, to discuss his new book, "The Grace of God and the Grace of Man: The Theologies of Bruce Springsteen," which examines the complex and compelling biblical and theological motifs that exist in The Boss's music.

3/14/17 #2020






"Welcome to One On One I'm Steve Adubato. It is our pleasure for the first time to welcome a very special guest. He is Azzan Yadin Israel. Professor in the department of Jewish studies and classics at Rutgers University and the author of "The Grace of God and The Grace of Man: The Theologies of Bruce Springsteen" How you doing? I'm doing alright. How are you? I'm doing great. Listen, I'm a Bruce... I should not say this. I hate to say that everyone in Jersey loves him. That's not true. Many of us do But the theologies of Bruce Springsteen. Yeah. Set the premise for this. Well, I mean the basic idea of the book is that Springsteen has throughout his career dealt with issues and used language that is drawn from theological sources even though he hasn't used them in traditional ways. So, he uses the language of religion and the imagery of religion and deals with topics that can be seen in some sense as religious but he doesn't do it in traditional religious ways. For example? 'Cause I'm thinking of "Rosalita" right now, and it's not hitting me. No. No no! [Laughter] It's not in "Rosalita" and you won't find"Rosalita" in the book either. Sorry about that. That's where my mind went. No! And that's a great point in a way, because the point... the idea of the book is not that every song should be stuffed into this rubric. Give us one. Well, I mean, basically early on in his career he's writing about some of the songs from... From "Born to Run"? Greetings. Even earlier. Even in Greetings. "Greetings from Asbury Park" You have songs like "It's hard to be a saint in the city" In that song, you actually have the hero of the song, the singer has a temptation scene with the devil. The devil tries to tempt him. He flees into the subways in New York which is kind of depicted as a kind of hell and this is all taken from Jesus' temptation scene, Matthew 4, and it's a very interesting reinterpretation of that because at the end of Jesus' temptation scene, the angels ministered to him. He's kind of transformed and he's overcome this temptation whereas in the song, Springsteen's hero comes back up from the subway. He manages to escape and nothing changes. It's like he's gone through what should be this transformational religious experience and he's right back where he started because it's hard to be a saint in the city. That's what the song is telling us. So even very early on, Springsteen is working in this very interesting way where..."