Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “My Beautiful Reward” (1992)

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An introspective (if slightly opaque) finale to Lucky Town, “My Beautiful Reward” finds our man summarizing the current chapter of his life. Things were bad, he did some soul-searching, and then everything took a turn for the better. I find myself defending Bruce when discussions get to the “Oh, he’s just a poor little rich man” stage. Does Bruce need to be defended? Of course not. But I’ll defend anybody against a detractor who will follow a line of “reasoning” based on false premises. Whether those premises involve politics, personality, or financial status is beside the point. We just cannot know somebody based on second and third-hand reporting.

Songs like this are great examples of the power of the craft. I assume that it’s about the resolution in Bruce’s personal life — and I make that assumption because it works for me. It completes the story in my head of what Springsteen was going through at the time. But that doesn’t mean that the song’s meaning can’t change over time. In fact, this one resolution can easily sit alongside other meanings that show up under different circumstances. People use art for all sorts of reasons, and put pieces of it into contexts that are far beyond the artist’s control.

As always, the Devils and Dust tour put the beauty of the song in sharp relief.

Up next: The Ghost Of Tom Joad

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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
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