Song of the Day #1,623: ‘Rocky Ground’ – Bruce Springsteen

springsteen_wrecking_ballTop Songs of 2012 – #12

Here I am, completely contradicting my comment two days ago that I don’t approve of rap breaks in pop or rock songs. Bruce Springsteen hands a verse over to Michelle Moore in the middle of today’s SOTD, and it’s downright sublime.

In my defense, ‘Rocky Ground’ is not your typical pop/rock song. It’s something more akin to folk rock gospel… a deeply spiritual track that earns its detour into spoken word territory.

Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball was his angriest and most populist album in years — an anthem for the 99%. Following this record, it was no surprise when The Boss (who had previously sworn off politics) wound up campaigning alongside Obama and Bill Clinton in the final days of the campaign.

And ‘Rocky Ground’ is the album’s beating heart, featuring Springsteen’s most moving vocals and, yes, a rap interlude that feels exactly right.

(I’m a soldier!)
(I’m a soldier!)
We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

Rise up shepherd, rise up
Your flock has roamed far from the hills
The stars have faded, the sky is still
The angels are shouting “Glory hallelujah”

We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

Forty days and nights of rain have washed this land
Jesus said the money changers in this temple will not stand
Find your flock, get them to higher ground
The floodwater’s rising, we’re Canaan bound

We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

Tend to your flock or they will stray
We’ll be called for our service come judgment day
Before we cross that river wide
The blood on our hands will come back on us twice

Rise up shepherd, rise up
Your flock has roamed far from the hills
Stars have faded, the sky is still
Sun’s in the heavens and a new day’s rising

You use your muscle and your mind and you pray your best
That your best is good enough, the Lord will do the rest
You raise your children and you teach them to walk straight and sure
You pray that hard times, hard times come no more
You try to sleep, you toss and turn, the bottom’s dropping out
Where you once had faith now there’s only doubt
You pray for guidance, only silence now meets your prayers
The morning breaks, you awake but no one’s there

We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There’s a new day coming
We’ve been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

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One thought on “Song of the Day #1,623: ‘Rocky Ground’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana says:

    There is a wholesale difference between Bruce’s decision to include a rap verse here as compared to every rap infused pop song currently on the radio, the latter of which you can just hear the smarmy record executive saying “Justin, baby, you want this crappy…errrr…. i mean gem of a song to go to number one? Then we need a rap beak by Whiz Khalifa!”

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