Bruce Springsteen :: The Ghost Of Tom Joad – A 2017 Reflection

The best songwriting works like a Rorschacht test. Observed from different angles, it reflects as much about the listener as it does the artist. When I first wrote about Bruce Springsteen's "Youngstown" and "Sinaloa Cowboys" for Aquarium Drunkard back in 2008, we were entering the Great Recession and the twin tales of Americans by birth and by choice spoke to us out of the mid-90s in a way that seemed even more relevant than before. My thoughts followed because of my surroundings.

As discussed in my original piece, Springsteen was reflecting on a quieter aspect of the decade -- an era largely remembered for the Dot Com boom and a general juggernaut economy. And yet, a decade that was just as hard and debilitating for large swaths of Americans as it ever was. So how does 2017 view a track like "Sinaloa Cowboys" in particular? This weekend brought a whole new vision. Between our new president's executive order establishing a new border wall and a temporary ban on immigration/refugees from certain countries, the protagonists at the heart of the song are now more of a warning for where bad policy can take us.

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