True Wealth in the “Badlands:” Bruce Springsteen’s “Ain’t Got You”
October 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm, by Jonah Rank
Two weeks ago, my wallet got stolen.
I lost several hundred dollars of cash (American and foreign), some money-related cards, and various similar things.
Fortunately, friends and family were ALL very quick to help me out. And another great thing: I didn’t lose my iPod.
And that’s why I credit some of my perseverance to Bruce Springsteen.
Bruce has “all the riches… any men ever knew, / but the only thing [he] ain’t got” is “you” (anyone who loves him). He might have all the riches, but he is not truly wealthy without happiness.
Ben Zoma teaches: “Eyzehu ashir? Hassame’ach bechelko.” (“Who is rich? One who is happy with one’s lot.”) The greatest wealth is happiness.
Bruce says you might live in “Badlands,” in a world of chaos, and you just might “Spend your life waiting / For a moment that just don’t come.” Bruce’s advice? “Well, don’t waste your time waiting.”
With the force of a fierce yet cheerful bang on the snare drum through each beat of the chorus, Bruce argues that in the “Badlands, you gotta live it everyday. / Let the broken hearts stand / As the price you’ve gotta pay. / We’ll keep pushin’ ’till it’s understood / And these badlands start treating us good.”
I now have a new wallet and new credit/debit cards, but my temporary poverty was an unusual opportunity for me to practice faith.
Bruce sings, “I believe in the love that you gave me. / I believe in the faith that could save me. / I believe in the hope, / And I pray that some day / It may raise me above these / Badlands…”
When I pray, my hope is not in God alone. It also lies in friends and family.
I am not happy I lived through some Badlands (and what I went through was nothing compared to what a homeless person might experience), but Bruce helped remind me how lucky I am to rise above the depths and to get back on my toes.
It was in the Badlands that I was reminded how wealthy I am.
Friends and family, I don’t have much money, but I’ve got something way better.
I’ve got you.
P.S. I believe that the clarity of lyrics on any Bruce Springsteen song is inversely proportional to the song’s popularity. Please see the following highly scientific chart: