This song came up on my Spotify. I’ve always liked it, but I am now convinced this may be some of Bruce’s finest writing in the 21st century.
The way he takes on different points of view in this particular song is really heartbreaking.
On verses one and two you have a suicide bomber trying to make his way to Paradise, absolutely convinced he’s on the right path, saying his goodbye to a son or daughter and using his/her backpack to blow himself up.
On verses three and four you have someone mourning the loss of a loved one to terrorism. Visiting him/her in dreams and waiting for death, which in this case is the same as Paradise as that’s where they’ll be reunited.
Then for 5 and 6, Bruce writes brilliantly from what could be the son/daughter or love one’s perspective, pondering suicide as a way to reach Paradise. Everything is simple in death (“waters cool and clear” as opposed to “where the river runs to black”). But upon visiting the other side, they see that there’s nothing in death. Just eyes empty as Paradise.
And in the end they turn around. “I break above the waves. I feel the Sun upon my face”. They choose life.
This is why I love this guy.
At the risk of being uncouth, this is something I wrote a few years back:
“Paradise” —Oddly overlooked on his 2002 E Street Band reunion album, The Rising, Springsteen took the almost unbelievably brave step of singing this song initially from a suicide bomber’s point of view, attempting to make sense of the inexplicable and, stunningly, succeeding. As though that weren’t challenging enough, he then spins the camera around and sings from the point of view of a dead victim of terrorism. One of Springsteen’s loveliest melodies is wedded to haunting music and the result is a song unsurpassed in emotional resonance. This is not the finest song Springsteen has ever written. But he has never written a more powerful one.
It's one of the only Springsteen songs I can't actually listen to very often, despite its beauty. It's just too emotionally overwhelming for me.
Paradise is a masochistic delight, is's a traumatic song, but yet so otherworldly beautiful. It's the intimate and dark Springsteen I love the most. The production of the song is exceptional.
The electronic sound/beat at the beginning and the end of the song, which sounds like a medical device imitating the heartbeat, Patti's distant, ghostly echos...I love how the music intensifies just after the Virginia Hills...
At one point I wanted this song as my funeral song.
I love this song so much. It parallels with Steve Earle's " Rich man's war".
The next archive release could very well be one version of every song played on this fantastic tour.
I wonder how many took the time to really follow the lyrics. When a lot of people only thought of revenge and war, he took the time and had the understanding to think about motives, about pain and burdens people carry. Some of his finest writing is on The Rising.
In Ghosts Bruce writes about the dead visiting the living in their dreams. I had forgotten that Bruce had described such a thing twenty years ago in Paradise.
I agree; it's one of his finest pieces of writing, in any century.