January 24, 2023

All The Music

All The Music

Your Own Worst Enemy – Bruce Springsteen (Lyrics)

2 min read



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INFO
YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 2007 album Magic.

GENESIS AND LYRICS
We are our own worst enemy: the meaning of this title is clear. As Bruce Springsteen told Joe Levy of Rolling Stone, “The lyrics are ´we´re always teetering on the edge´, and it´s all about self-subversion. You can take it personally or politicaly.” On the personal side, Your Own Worst Enemy is the story of a man who sinks into insanity or paranoia. Either way, what he does had irreversible consequences, for himself and for his wife. He can no longer “dream [his] dream” – the dream he could have if he were sleeping, but also the American dream, which has now become inaccesible to him. And still he dares not stare truth in the face, to the point where he removes “all the mirrors.”
On the political side, President George W Bush is again in the crosshairs: “Your flag it flew so high/It drifted into the sky.” This is a criticism of the wars the United States waged in the early 2000s and of the Patriot Act, which was seen as oppressive.

PRODUCTION
How can this song not bring to mind Brian Wilson´s legendary album Pet Sounds? The tone is set in the introduction: after two measures of bells and piano, Springsteen launches into his vocals supported by violins, an arpeggioed electric guitar, and, last but not least, a handbell, the key tool of The Beach Boys´ front man. The Boss had written in a style that was relatively new for him, and he did not hide his satisfaction: “I always loved those little pop symphonies, so on this record, I had a chance to play around with some of that. Your Own Worst Enemy was one of my big pop productions.” He was not afraid to enhance the arrangements with various instruments: strings – which, unlike those of Devils & Dust and The Rising, are actually audible – a tack piano (in the background on the left at 0:51) and a Chamberlin for the trumpets, in the style of Penny Lane (in the bridge at 1:53), both played by Patrick Warren; Beach Boys-style unisons (at 1:33); and multiple percussion instruments, including orchestra timbales (at 1:16). As for the lead vocals, Springsteen adopts Roy Orbison-like intonations, notably in his vibrato (for example at 2:55).

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