1) First, click here for a soundtrack. Come on, don't be so vain. You know some small part of you is madly in love with Bruce Springsteen's music.
2). Next, read this excerpt:
Springsteen began reading O’Connor’s stories in his late twenties, which was at same the time he was working on Darkness on the Edge of Town, released in 1978. In his review of Darkness in Rolling Stone, Paul Nelson writes, “Many of the characters in the songs on Bruce Springsteen’s new album appear to be trapped in a state of desperation so intense that they must either break through to something better (or at least into something ambiguous) or break down into madness, murder or worse.” In the words of O’Connor, “Either one is serious about salvation or one is not.”
Springsteen wrote over seventy songs for the Darkness album, and many of those songs appeared on his next album, The River. Of course, one wonders whether Springsteen pulled the album title directly from O’Connor’s story of the same name. It seems a safe bet, especially since he also penned a song during that same period entitled “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
In 1982, Springsteen released Nebraska, which, more than any of his other albums, sounds like O’Connor. Even the reviews that the album received sounded like reviews of O’Connor’s stories: “startling, direct and chilling.” Springsteen explains, “At home, just before recording Nebraska, I was reading Flannery O’Connor. Her stories reminded me of the unknowability of God and contained a dark spirituality that resonated with my feeling at the time.” This theme of God’s unknowability was mistakenly understood by some reviewers as nihilism, especially in reference to the last track on the album, “Reason to Believe,” where in the first verse, a man pokes a dead dog with a stick in an attempt to revive it; in the second verse another man leaves his wife, who waits for him, every day, down at the end of a dirt road; in the third, an old man dies in a whitewashed shotgun shack; and in the final verse, a groom, stood up at his riverside wedding, stands alone and wonders where his bride might be. Like O’Connor, Springsteen is no nihilist, and neither is he naïve. Springsteen recognizes that sin is present in the world, and whether we recognize it or not, it affects all of us. Yet, once recognized, it is ours to determine how we will respond to it.
-From "Naming Sin: Flannery O'Connor's Mark on Bruce Springsteen," by Damian J. Ference, originally publishing in Dappled Things