Song of the Day #63: ‘Jesus Was an Only Son’ – Bruce Springsteen

I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan, but not a fanatic. I like his albums, but I’m not too keen on the idea of spending three sweaty hours watching The Boss blow the roof off of an arena.

I’m much more drawn to his quieter music than the anthemy stuff. My favorite Springsteen albums before the millennium were Nebraska and Tunnel of Love.

In the past 6 years, though, he’s put out some of his very best material. Starting with Devils & Dust, moving on to the covers album We Shall Overcome and finally delivering last year’s Magic, he’s been on a run that should make him the envy of musicians half his age.

Of the three, Devils & Dust is probably my favorite. It’s somber and deep, populated with sad-sack characters at the end of their ropes. The album contains some of Springsteen’s most poetic lyrics, and his most thought-provoking.

Springsteen has always packed his music with Catholic imagery and this song is pretty direct in that way. It explores the Jesus story through Mary’s eyes — Springsteen has said he wanted to look at that profound story from the much simpler (but equally powerful) perspective of a woman who is losing a son.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #63: ‘Jesus Was an Only Son’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana says:

    I agree that I generally like the quieter Springsteen. I will say, however, that seeing him in concert is really extraordinary and something worth seeing. He puts heart and soul into a concert like few others, possibly no others.

  2. Amy says:

    I’ve never heard this song before, and I must admit that just reading what it’s about caused me to shudder. Bruce Springsteen is masterful at capturing the emotion of a moment, whether it’s the moment a romance begins or ends, a dream is launched or shattered. This song is no exception. “Sleep tight, my child…” is such a simple way to express these powerful emotions. And, like The Last Temptation of Christ (both the novel and the film), these depictions of the intensely human sacrifice of Jesus always strike me far more profoundly than the more overtly Biblical artistic renderings.

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