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Preaching The Bruce Springsteen Gospel

Author Jeffrey Symynkywicz says that the music of Bruce Springsteen (above) provides community like a church, but not in quite the same way.
Jim Dyson
/
Getty Images Entertainment
Author Jeffrey Symynkywicz says that the music of Bruce Springsteen (above) provides community like a church, but not in quite the same way.
Author Jeffrey Symynkywicz.
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Author Jeffrey Symynkywicz.

When Jeffrey Symynkywicz preaches at his Unitarian Universalist church, he's often accompanied by music, but it's not the music you might expect. The minister has been a fan of Bruce Springsteen since the beginning of his career, and now he's managed to combine his theological training with his love of Springsteen's music. His new book is titled The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Redemption from Asbury Park to Magic.

In an interview, host Liane Hansen takes Symynkywicz through a few choice Springsteen songs, including the last song on Born to Run, "Jungle Land." Symynkywicz says it's an ethics song about perceived powers and the powers that be. Ultimately, he says, "Jungle Land" gives the sense that the bad guys have won — until that famous last scream from Springsteen.

"That scream is the exhaustion and the pain of living life in this world," Symynkywicz says. "In that scream is a defiance that it's not going to be the last word."

In his years of fandom and research, Symynkywicz has found a few themes in Springsteen. Most of all, he says, Springsteen conveys hope in his songs.

"Springsteen isn't much of a romantic in his music," he says. "He presents life as it is — life in all its grit and all its pain."

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