Bruce Springsteen’s “Devils & Dust” Lyrics Meaning

The setting of “Devils & Dust” is probably in the Second War in Iraq, considering the narrator’s frequent reference to violence and dust storms which are exceptionally common in the country.

According to the writer, he has lost his sense of trust and faith in people and even God because of the wickedness and betrayal exhibited in the wake of war. He addresses the issues of fear, loss and anxiety which put people in survival mode, urging them to do the unthinkable.

While mourning the death of his friend Bobbie on the battle ground, he admits that although people strive to do good, like him trying to fight off evil by joining the army, in the end, they are changed into the very thing they wanted to fight against because of their need to survive.

Though in the initial verses, he is taken aback by the wickedness of other people and as such cannot trust them, he realizes that he is also a part of the problem because everyone is actually doing all they deem fit in order to survive.

Is “Devils & Dust” a self-written song?

Yes. Bruce Springsteen composed the music and wrote the lyrics to “Devils & Dust”.

Is this song about the Iraq War?

Without a shred of doubt, we say a resounding YES. The war in question began in early 2003 and ended in late 2011. Springsteen composed the song not long after the United States invaded Iraq and kick-started the almost-decade long conflict.

When was “Devils & Dust” released?

Springsteen (via Columbia Records) released it in 2005 (at the height of the Iraq War). It was a single from his 2005 album of the same title.

Did this win Springsteen a Grammy?

No. However, it was the recipient of multiple nominations at the Grammys of 2006. The nominations are stated below:

  • “Song of the Year” (which it lost to U2’s “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own”)
  • “Best Rock Song” (which it again lost to a U2 track titled “City of Blinding Lights“.

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