Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Nothing Man” (2002)

Various reports state that this song was written long before the 9/11 incident and was brought forward (and perhaps updated) for its release. The lyrics can be interpreted in several ways, nothing new for a Springsteen song. The key phrase here seems to be “Pearl and silver.” Is it a gun? A crucifix? Neither?

I’m not sure that I care, because clearly the protagonist is dealing with some issues. A life-changing event came along leaving some dangling threads. How they are dealt with seems almost irrelevant, since the resolution (if there is one) will occur in the future. That’s one of the hidden beauties of songwriting, that the listener can take whatever they’d like from the song, even if it’s “wrong.”

I’m going with our man being one of the first responders, feeling the weight of guilt produced when some of his co-workers perished in the rubble.

Up next: Countin’ On A Miracle

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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 writes several 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.
  • Gordon_J

    I definitely get a gun – pearl handled and silver. it’s by the bed, but can he use it? He wants to = “pray that I’m able.”

    There are 9/11 references – the “pink vapour” and the sky of “unbelievable blue”. And I agree that survival guilt is the subject here.