Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “If I Should Fall Behind” (1992)

One aspect of art that can bring endless inspiration is the phenomenon of our changing reaction to a piece over time. Maybe there was little or no resonance when the work was first introduced. Now at a remove, you perceive something that seemed to not be there before. Obviously this can work in the opposite direction, where early enthusiasm gives way to an emotional washout. In either case, we can see that the “value” of art is not strictly intrinsic, with our subjectivity a hugely important part of the mix.

Of course, in the case of music, the work in question doesn’t have to remain static. The original version of “If I Should Fall Behind,” so obviously a love song, re-emerged during the E Street reunion tour as a celebration of the renewal of brotherhood. I’ve always loved the song but was brought to tears at a Boston reunion show when the delivery of the lines was split among Bruce, Steve, Nils, Patti, and Clarence. Now, it feels like especially Clarence. Years later on the Seeger Sessions tour, the song reverted to its original nature, but this time as a gorgeous waltz, Bruce and Patti sharing the vocals.

I felt that power of solidarity at the reunion concert, and me and TheWife™ swayed in unison at our Seeger show. Two sets of meanings from one song, many years apart. Will a new one be discovered down the road? I’m sure of it.

Up next: Leap Of Faith



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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 Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org 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 reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski