"Paradise" as written by and Bruce Gaitsch Felicia Sorensen....
Where the river runs to black
I take the schoolbooks from your pack
Plastics, wire and your kiss
The breath of eternity on your lips

In the crowded marketplace
I drift from face to face
I hold my breath and close my eyes
I hold my breath and close my eyes
And I wait for paradise
And I wait for paradise

The Virginia hills have gone to brown
Another day another sun going down
I visit you in another dream
I visit you in another dream

I reach and feel your hair
Your smell lingers in the air
I brush your cheek with my fingertips
I taste the void upon your lips
And I wait for paradise
And I wait for paradise

I search for you on the other side
Where the river runs clean and wide
Up to my heart the waters rise
Up to my heart the waters rise

I sink 'neath the water cool and clear
Drifting down, I disappear
I see you on the other side
I search for the peace in your eyes
But they're as empty as paradise
They're as empty as paradise

I break above the waves
I feel the sun upon my face


Lyrics submitted by zara

"Paradise" as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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Paradise song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentPersonally, I thought of it as suicide.

    The first stanza about someone who love another and is happy, but their relationship is tainted or something of the sort. Hence, the "black water".

    He then thinks that suicide, or disappearing under the waves, will bring him to peace, hence the "white water".

    The last one is where he sees that paradise isn't worth it. So, in the last two lines he changes his mind and sees that he is continuing with life and that's Happy Day.
    poweronoffon November 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningAccording to an old friend of mine, this song is about coming across the body of a young lady that has overdosed (died) from drugs. She said this was Springsteen's meaning of the song. The plastic, wire on your lips refers to the young ladies braces. The eternity on your lips indicates death. The dreams indicate he was disturbed by the encounter but at peace knowing her soul was free. I suppose this makes sense and it's what I think of when I hear this song. I don't think of suicide bombers. That is just weird.
    ewest305on January 02, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere's something really eerie and otherworldly about this song. The production is wonderful -- the tone is almost creepy. I think Springsteen was pretty brave to include this song on 'The Rising' given the anger of post-9/11 America, and it really works.

    If the meaning isn't clear to you, it's about a suicide bomber on the last day of his life. It's sequenced right after the title song on 'The Rising', and it mirrors that song (which follows a firefighter into the Towers and on into the afterlife). "I see you on the other side / I search for the peace in your eyes / But they're as empty as paradise" is symbolic of his discovery that the paradise he hoped for is empty and false (unlike the firefighter, who was selfless and therefore found happiness in the afterlife).
    Cherub Rockon January 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't know if that's the exact interpretation I draw, but I can see that, certainly.

    But you're right, no matter what, it's an incredible song, and so deeply saddening.
    ncc74656mon October 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is a about a suicide bomber, who changes his mind at the last minute
    wesg01on October 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts certainly not about any individual suicide bomber, and its not an account of any suicide bomber's experiences - how would Bruce Springsteen know about that?

    Its an incredibly emotional song, the kind Springsteen does best. There is a girl involved but it is hard to tell who, the line "i take the schoolbooks from your pack" made me think his daughter, but he then talks of her lips so maybe its his girlfriend or lover.

    He is comparing the real and concrete experience of this girl - her humanity, her lips, her hair, her smell, her touch to the abstract, ideological thought of paradise. How could someone give up an experience of paradise on earth, such as love, to try and find the promised paradise which supposedly awaits after death.

    At the end of another day (see references to the myth of sysiphus in The Rising) he has a dream (the water is a metaphor for the dream state) about the same girl, in which he and her are together in paradise - but this time, as they are both dead, there is no humanity in her, there is a void in her lips and her eyes are as empty as the paradise they have found. The song ends as he wakes up from the dream ("I break upon the waves") and returns to life with the sun on his face - aren't we in the only paradise we will ever find on planet earth? Can we not see feelings of love and humanity towards and from other people are the closest we will get to heaven. Can we not learn to love each other? Beautiful song, even more so in the wake of the events which inspired it.
    dan105on January 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me, the song is about death and three different stories linked by the loss of a loved one and the afterlife.

    The first is the most disgust, the suicide bomber who uses his child's backpack to put his bomb in. I've always assumed that he lost his child in similar circumstances and this is his revenge, to join his child in the afterlife but the lack of any mention of his fate suggests he will be waiting forever.

    The second story's imagery suggests an older person, especially the image of fall/autumn as the leaves turn brown. They've lost a loved one and are simply marking time and not living life, trying to remember the smell and touch of the deceased, before they, themselves, die.

    The third story is the loss of a loved one to drowning. The frantic search up and down the river, jumping in to save them only to find they're already dead. The final words suggest that breaking through the waves and feeling the sun on their face, they've actually crossed into paradise themselves and that, through acting selflessly and trying to rescue another, a theme all through the album, that they are the only one that has been reunited with their loved one. The suicide bomber being denied for taking others lives and the older person marking time but failing to live life to the full as a result because they're spending so much time in mourning waiting endlessly for death.

    A truely brilliant and heartfelt song.
    o-Ali-oon June 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThinking more about this (it's just that kind of song that gets under your skin) it could also be read as a song about the futility of always looking to the afterlife. The bomber and the mourner wasting their present life in two very different ways, in the hope of a paradise that never comes...hence the emphasis on waiting. The final character looks into the eyes of the person they're trying to save and realises the finality of death and the emptyness of the promise of paradise and chooses to live on,hence breaking back through the water's surface and feeling the warmth of the sun in this world. The water in the final act seems to also act as a metaphor for death,or at least the enveloping and consuming idea of paradise beyond. The powerful imagery of the suicide bomber is also very poignant and it appears that his focus solely on joining his loved one in the afterlife through violence has actually distanced him from their memory in the line "Plastics, wire, and your kiss". So much imagery and emotion in such a simple song. Pure genius.
    o-Ali-oon June 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe this song is about death and the ultimate futility of suicide.

    I think the suicide bomber analogy in the first verse is correct. I believe this person lost his/her child and is not avenging that death through a suicide bombing.

    The second verse refers to a Pentagon September 11th widow(er) (Viriginia hills in fall) who cannot live without his/her spouse.

    Both cross to the other side and see their loved ones, reach out to them, and realize that their time is premature and the meeting will be empty if the act of killing oneself continues.

    Neither follow through with the suicide. The bomber does not squeeze the trigger and the widow(er) does not follow through (final two lines). The sun is a new day and life continuing.
    tijakoon February 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThis song is about two women who strive to reach paradise. The first is a mother who is also a suicide bomber - we know she's a mother becuase of the motherly reference to the school pack. A man wouldn't be referenced this way. She is from the middle east - as referenced by the black river, i.e. oil. Check out 'Seeds' and 'Goodeye' for a similar reference to oil (and therefore money/riches/dreams/reason for war etc)

    The suicide bomber carries out her role thinking this will take her to paradise. she might be right - what do we know.

    meanwhile, in Virginia, lives another woman who has lost her lover/partner/husband and longs to find them again in Paradise. Given this song is from 'The Rising' you could read that the second woman lost her soulmate to an act of terrorism which emphasises the parallel stories or draws out some irony perhaps? One's suicide is an act of terro the others' is because of an act of terror.

    Anyhow, the second woman, whilst trying to drown herself realises that actually the paradise she seeks probably doesn't exist, so she doesn't actually carry out the act.

    This is a big statement. On the one hand we have a woman placed in the middle east who is convinced that her act of terrosim will give her rites to paradise. She does this whilst knowing she will be leaving behind her child - that's how convinced she is that her Paradise awaits her. On the other hand we have a woman who is willing to end her life because she feels so cheated by life that she'd rather give hers up if there's a chance to be with her partner again.

    The last two lines of the song, to come after the last chorus, leave a very poignant end to a very simple but incredibly deep meaning song. I play it a lot beacuse of the many levels the song reaches - it's an absolute fab song - my wife just thinks the song is slow, dull and crap.

    what does she know eh!
    mcmuckeron February 20, 2011   Link

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