One Track Mind: Bruce Springsteen, "Rocky Ground" (2012)

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Bruce Springsteen’s religious stance has always been a little murky to me, though his recent comments suggest that it’s hard to shake off those early experiences with Catholicism. Bruce’s currently thoughts on The Almighty(tm) aside, “Rocky Ground” at the very least suggests that the man’s spirituality infuses a deep sense of empathy into his conception of right, wrong, and what that means for society.

Springsteen’s views on economic injustice, as expressed on the majority of Wrecking Ball‘s songs, are quite clear and are brought into even sharper focus on “Rocky Ground.” Coming along for the ride are Bruce’s love of soul and gospel music. And you can extend those genres out into modern hip hop as well. Employing samples from Alan Lomax’s field recording of “I’m A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord,” as well as a soaring choir and a short rap segment written by Springsteen but delivered by Michelle Moore, this track shows Bruce taking advantage of and expanding on his love of soul and gospel musics.

On first listen, I just knew that “Rocky Ground” would have a polarizing effect among the fan base. Sure enough, it has been described as both the best and worst song that Wrecking Ball has to offer. Me, I’ve been totally diggin’ it. It shows an artist who is fearlessly bringing his current influences to the fore. Isn’t that what great art is all about?

You use your muscle and your mind and you pray your best
That your best is good enough, the Lord will do the rest
You raise your children and you teach ‘them to walk straight and sure
You pray that hard times, hard times, come no more
You try to sleep, you toss and turn, the bottom’s dropping out
Where you once had faith now there’s only doubt
You pray for guidance, only silence now meets your prayers
The morning breaks, you awake but no one’s there

Video courtesy of Gina Giambone

Next up: Land Of Hope And Dreams

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski
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