Living Proof is lyrically one of my favourite songs from Bruce. It is about the birth of his first son Evan James, born in the summer of 1990. The song also explores the duality of fear versus love, the dusky room pierced by the Lord’s light, the innocence of a child in a hard and dirty world.
This is the fourth song to appear from Bruce’s double release albums Human Touch / Lucky Town. I always agreed with the Rolling Stones review of the double release that argued ‘the aims of the two albums would have been better realized by a single, more carefully shaped collection’. There at least ten songs from both albums that could have been combined to form one classic Springsteen album.
Bruce’s voice seems a bit haggard on Living Proof and perhaps that’s intentional given its subject matter. The dual-record was seen by some as evidence his voice was shot or at least no longer possessed the same ferocity heard on the Born in the USA tour. Well everyone gets older, I say. He’s only human.
Well now on a summer night in a dusky room
Come a little piece of the Lord’s undying light
Crying like he swallowed the fiery moon
In his mother’s arms it was all the beauty I could take
Like the missing words to some prayer that I could never make
In a world so hard and dirty
So fouled and confused
Searching for a little bit of God’s mercy
I found living proof
I put my heart and soul, I put ’em high up on a shelf
Right next to the faith, the faith that I’d lost in myself
I went down into the desert city
Just tryin’ so hard to shed my skin
I crawled deep into some kind of darkness
Lookin’ to burn out every every trace of who I’d been
You do some sad sad things, baby
When it’s you you’re tryin’ to lose
You do some sad and hurtful things
I’ve seen living proof
Lucky Town is the tenth studio album by Bruce Springsteen. The album was released on March 31, 1992, the same day as Springsteen’s Human Touch album. Compared to Human Touch, Lucky Town has a more stripped down, folk-based sound and is more personal in its songs’ lyrics such as today’s featured track Living Proof.
“The night my son was born, I got close to a feeling of real, pure, unconditional love with all the walls down. All of a sudden, what was happening was so immense that it just stomped all the fear away for a little while and I remember feeling overwhelmed. But I also understood why you’re so frightened. When that world of love comes rushing in, a world of fear comes with it. To open yourself up to one thing, you’ve got to embrace the other thing as well… My music over the last five years has dealt with those almost primitive issues; it’s about somebody walking through that world of fear so that he can live in the world of love.” –Bruce Springsteen to David Hepworth, Q Magazine, August 1992
1. Lucky Town – Wikipedia
2. Roll of the Dice – Living Proof – Estreet Shuffle
Such an emotional song written and sung from his heart. Springsteen was only 42 when he recorded this song and album, so his voice was far from ‘being shot’.
I can understand, based on this song specifically why some argued ‘he was done’ or words to that effect. The double album was a bad move on Bruce’s part in my opinion. It could have been one of his best ever. To me, he rejuvintated his voice reputation on the September 11 album . That album ‘The Rising’ to me is why he is a legend.
There is a story of him (if it’s true) being stopped on the Brooklyn bridge asking if he would do something about what just happened. The rest is history.