A Handful of Bruce Springsteen’s Best Songs about Social Justice

Bruce Springsteen
Image: BruceSpringsteen.net

Cody Gotchall is a student at Linn-Benton Community College who has an interest in several different academic fields, including engineering and business. In his free time, Cody Gotchall enjoys listening to the music of Bruce Springsteen, especially because of the social-justice themes present in his lyrics.

One of his most poignant songs is American Skin, which is about the death of unarmed Guinean man Amadou Diallo at the hands of four New York City police officers. The song expresses outrage at the tragedy while also taking an empathetic stance toward the police. American Skin has only become more meaningful in the era of Black Lives Matter.

Youngstown remains one of Springsteen’s most popular songs. At its heart, the song denounces the military industrial complex of the United States and asks what American citizens really need and deserve when they come home from war.

A newer but incredibly moving Springsteen song is We Are Alive. The song takes listeners through a cemetery as various ghosts visit the singer and evoke some of the most meaningful struggles in American history, including the civil rights, labor, and immigration movements.

The Ghost of Tom Joad is one of Springsteen’s most important songs. Released during the economic boom of the 1990s and named after the protagonist of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the song is a powerful reminder that there are always people living in the margins and these people need an advocate.