Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Darkness On The Edge Of TownReleased: 1978
The title came from a 1965 Chuck Berry song called "Promised Land." Springsteen admired Berry's songwriting and his ability to relate to an audience.
A theme of this song is a feeling of being powerless: "Blow away the dreams that tear you apart, blow away the dreams that break your heart, blow away the dreams that leave you nothing but lost and broken hearted."
When Bruce says he believes in a "Promised Land," he's almost being sarcastic. Oftentimes reality is different than dreams.
Springsteen had the chorus written long before filling out the lyrics.
This was recorded relatively quickly. While most songs on Darkness On The Edge Of Town took 20 or more takes, this was done in about five.
Springsteen included this on his box set Live 1975-1985.
This was the third single off Darkness On The Edge Of Town
. It was a big change of pace from Springsteen's previous album, Born To Run
, which featured songs of hope like "Thunder Road
" and "She's The One." The theme for Darkness
was broken dreams.
U2's bono sang a few of the lyrics when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Springsteen inducted them.
According to Racing in the Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader
, this is "his song about an American workingman who has grown weary of living in a country that urges you to dream and then leaves 'you nothing but lost and brokenhearted.'"
Bruce performed this song live in front of the Federal Building in the downtown Westwood section of Los Angeles during a political rally. One of the issues at the time was Proposition 209, which sought the sharp reduction of affirmative-actions programs across the state. Bruce said he felt America should be a country where everyone could find "work that fulfills you, brings meaning and purpose to your life." He continued by saying "I believe that the Promised Land is still attainable, but we're not there yet. Let's stand together in defense of that Promised Land."
Springsteen dedicated this song to Jackson Browne when he performed it at an anti-nuclear power concert at Madison Square Garden in 1979 put on by Browne's Musicians United For Safe Energy (MUSE) organization. "It was his sense of purpose and his conviction that got me down here tonight," Springsteen said from the stage.