Lessons from Bruce Springsteen: Lyrics of hope, dashed dreams guide practice
Balancing Life and the Law
June 14, 2022
I truly believe Bruce Springsteen can be called America’s poet laureate. I do not know of another songwriter who so accurately captures my emotions, nuances and spirit.
I was introduced to Bruce Springsteen’s music by my childhood and lifelong friend Jim McGrath. Because of Bruce, I have gained so many valuable life lessons which have also impacted how I handle and try cases. Here are just a few lyrics from “The Boss” that have crept into my subconscious when preparing for trial or during trial.
“At the end of every hard day, people find some reason to believe.” — “Reason to Believe”
I love this song. It really does embody what many of my clients must endure on a daily basis. In their darkest days involving the loss of a loved one, chronic pain or a debilitating injury, they still find some reason to believe. When people lose hope, they stop “living.” Falling down is an accident; staying down is a choice. That is why I love this particular lyric and often recite it to my clients.
“Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king ain’t satisfied until he rules everything.” — “Badlands”
To me, this accurately depicts a defendant’s corporate greed when they consciously choose profit over safety. Similarly, when an expert witness engages in the “hobby” of testifying purely because it is lucrative, this mantra from Bruce often plays in my head.
“God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of.” — “Brilliant Disguise”
When it comes to trial preparation, have your plan. You need to be confident on where you are going with the direct examination, cross-examination, closing argument, you name it. The only way you can be confident and completely sure of your plan is by being totally and thoroughly prepared for any adverse issues which may arise. A hope and prayer that it doesn’t occur is a recipe for disaster. God have mercy on you if that is your plan.
“Is a dream a lie when it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” — “The River”
When a client has been catastrophically injured or has lost a loved one, dreams and all of their future goals are understandably crushed. Often, their dreams have faded to dust and are figuratively blown away in the wind. I submit, when a dream or goal is thwarted because of the negligent conduct of another, it is worse than any dream which does not come true.
“My father said, ‘Son, we are lucky in this town.’” — “Long Walk Home”
Once again, this song is about a man disillusioned with what his world had become and reflects on the old days when things were purer, better and happier. Unfortunately, that is what many of our clients long for. A pain-free existence. Their loved one back. They pine for yesteryear, but those days only exist in their rearview mirror of life.
Being creative and applying everyday solutions to complex concepts can be, dare I say, “fun.” Sometimes a simple song lyric can spark an idea. As can poems, books or movies. Do not be stifled with the limits of your inspiration or imagination. As Bruce aptly notes, “Someday we will look back on this and it will all seem funny.”
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