Life sometimes serves up terrible choices. People break the law because they have to eat. A person looks the other way, even though they’re enabling the “wrong” that’s being done. You’re attracted to somebody, only to discover that that attraction complicates your life more than you can imagine.
“The Line” isn’t the first time Springsteen has entered this territory, but the results just might be his most beautiful and poignant.
This is a powerful combination of loss, hunger, and lives that have run off the rails. And while the melody seems to borrow from Bob Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” Bruce draws a line to the song’s companion piece — Nebraska’s Highway Patrolman — by taking from the latter tune’s chorus.
The word “cinematic” is overused when describing song craft, but I’ll take a chance and employ it here because the detail that Springsteen provides puts you right in the middle of the dark movie of these tragic lives.
Up next: Balboa Park