When I began to revisit Devils & Dust, I was brought back to the evening of the first listening session. A sort of timeline was constructed on that night, taking a couple’s histories and drawing a line through parts of it, with memories of Springsteen albums taking up important points along the way.
I couldn’t have thought about it at the time — because these things take a while to make themselves known — but song’s like Maria’s Bed and (especially) “Leah” are what make Devils & Dust an other-side-of-the-coin companion to Nebraska. Yes, surely the subject matter is different, but both collections are weighed down by experiences of fear, tragedy, and doubt. But this small handful of songs — and I’d have to add Long Time Comin’ and All The Way Home — puts a slight positive spin on a dark world.
I loved “Leah” right from the start. A man’s in love and that’s his driving force. It’s the same way I felt on that night. And Bruce channels his considerable writing power into beautifully simple lyrics. That last line, “I open the door, I climb the stairs…,” wraps up the whole story in only eight words.
Up next: The Hitter