Recently I ran across a review of Bruce Springsteen’s new album entitled “Western Stars.” I down loaded the music. He sure is able to express the deep angst in the souls of brokenhearted men. The songs are the stories of older men. The reviewer, Stephen Klugewicz, writes, “The men of Western Stars are Everyman; they are all of us. They are broken, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and are alone sometimes by choice but often because of their own foibles, some seek redemption by asking for a second chance, others through hard work, or by wallowing in nostalgia and regret.”
The American West is depicted as a “land of sunshine, open roads, and new beginnings.” But the West is not able to provide salvation for the lost and lonely. I was moved by what Springsteen called “tone poems.” Instead of stories of young men wanting to “blow this whole town apart” or middle-aged men experiencing the disillusionment of marriage and the working life, Springsteen sings the laments of isolated, down-and-out, older men, “who have been left mostly broken by their experiences and filled with remorse for their actions.”
The men in these songs need the assurance of a loving God, who is able to heal their broken hearts. Ps. 51:17 declares that a broken heart is pleasing to God. “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” In Ps 34:18 we are assured of God being close to the brokenhearted. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” “The brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit” notes The ESV Study Bible, “refers to the pride and stubbornness in one’s heart being humbled.”
It is Jesus who invites brokenhearted men to come to him. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Matt. 12:20). He understands the needs of a broken heart and how to mend the wounds. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light” (Matt. 11:28-29). There is a place for men to bring their burdens.
“Rest for your souls” speaks of “eternal rest for all who seek forgiveness of their sins and freedom from the crushing legalistic burden and guilt of trying to earn salvation by good works” (ESV Study Bible). Jesus will remove a man’s burden, enabling him to live freely.
Here is a sample of the broken hearts in the stories depicted in the songs. In “Tucson Train” we listen to a man who regrets leaving a woman in San Francisco because he “got so down and out in Frisco/tired of the pills and the rain.” The relationship was broken – “We fought hard over nothin’/We fought till nothing remained.” Now he was waiting for her to come on the train to “show her a man can change.”
In “Chasin’ Wild Horses,” we learn of deep regret. “Guess it was somethin’ I shouldn’t have done/Guess I regret it now/Even since I was a kid/Tryin’ to keep my temper down is like/Chasin’ wild horses.” In “Stones” we hear about a man who wakes up with stones in his mouth, a symbol of the lies he tells his beloved. In “Moonlight Motel,” we learn of a man, who is married, recalling a long-ago love affair at a now-abandoned motel.