The song Hunter of Invisible Game (released on the album High Hopes in 2014), sprung from a title that Springsteen came up with and wrote down. At that time Springsteen had done some post-apocalyptic reading and wanted to incorporate that in a song. Subsequently the title evolved into a full song. The setting is a wasteland where the narrator is trying to hunt out the remains of what makes the spirit, trying to hold on to humankind and to restore and rebuild a fallen civilization. In the beginning of the song the narrator/the hunter hauls himself out of a ditch and builds himself an arch and I wonder if the the ditch is a grave or a dip off the side of the road symbolising hard times that anyone get into during the course of life.
In verse two the image of a railroad tracks appears (“And a scarecrow on fire along the railroad tracks“). There are railroad tracks in the lyrics of many Bruce Springsteen’s songs, a symbol for escape, a way out. But why the scarecrow, I wonder? Perhaps to scare away the demons?
Strength is vanity and time is illusion. I feel you breathing, the rest is confusion. Your skin touches mine, what else to explain. I am the hunter of invisible game
The short film, Hunter of Invisible Game, takes place in a kind of a no man’s land, where Springsteen plays a weathered hunter, who is travelling with a horse, an axe and a rifle. In the beginning he is sitting alone, noticably haunted, looking at photograps of his past (a wife, kids and a home) that turn into visions. Along the way he comes across a young boy who is searching for his family. Finally they locate the boy’s family and village. The song kicks in around halfway through the 10-minute film and through the song the character narrates his own story. The film paints a portrait of a resilient man who is not quite ready to give in, despite the hardship he’s been through.
It may seem quite random that I picked up this song and film to write about and I agree. It is not on rotation on my Spotify playlist (though it may will be). There was something that caught my attention and as I started to look more closely on the lyrics I felt I wanted to try and analyse the meaning to me. Part of what I like about this song is the ambiguity. Is the hunter the Devil or the Saviour? In what way do the lyrics speak to me?
To me a lot of Springsteen’s work urges us to resist the kind of stagnation that derives from the fear of leaving your comfort zone. This fear may lead you to stay in a place that feels safe but that does nothing for your progress. Anxiety over making a wrong move, the potential for discomfort, knowing that you don’t have all the answers are not reasons enough for inaction.
We all come up a little short and we go down hard. These days I spend my time skipping through the dark.
In my post Leap of faith I write about my “10 Bruce Commandments” and there you find that many of the lines I’ve listed point in the same direction; be brave enough to try something new, don’t fear change and (most importantly) don’t settle.
I guess you could argue that “you get the answers you are looking for” (a Swedish saying* quite clumsily translated) and these were the answers I found when I read the lyrics of the Hunter of Inivisble Game. What do find? Is the Hunter the Devil or the Saviour? What is the Invisible Game to you?
* Som man frågar får man svar