Last night I dreamed that I was a child
Out where the pines grow wild and tall
I was trying to make it home through the forest
Before the darkness falls

I heard the wind rustling through the trees
And ghostly voices rose from the fields
I ran with my heart pounding down that broken path
With the devil snapping at my heels

I broke through the trees and there in the night
My father's house stood shining hard and bright
The branches and brambles tore my clothes and scratched my arms
But I ran till I fell shaking in his arms

I awoke and I imagined, the hard things that pulled us apart
Will never again, sir, tear us from each other's hearts
I got dressed and to that house I did ride
From out on the road I could see its windows shining in light

I walked up the steps and stood on the porch
A woman I didn't recognize came and spoke to me through a chained door
I told her my story and who I'd come for
She said "I'm sorry son but no one by that name lives here anymore"

My father's house shines hard and bright
It stands like a beacon calling me in the night
Calling and calling, so cold and alone
Shining 'cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned

Lyrics submitted by oofus

"My Father's House" as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing LLC

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My Father's House song meanings
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  • +2
    Song MeaningSpringsteen has explained the meaning of this song on a few occasions.

    For many years he had been driving at night to his childhood house with no apparent reason until one day he began wondering why. He then went to a psychiatrist who explained him that this 'ritual' was nothing but an attempt to make his past right and more specifically to correct something that went wrong during his childhood.
    Springsteen has mentioned a few time his difficult relationship with his father, a severe and depressed man, but also a very important figure for him.
    This song really talks about him freeing himself from this 'ritual' and coming to realize he is not going to be able to change his past anyway. It is of course also an homage to his dad and how important he was to him.
    annieallon August 23, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYes, he had an incredibly tumultous relationship with his Dad and has often said that if he hadn't, he "wouldn't have had anything to write about". They reconciled yrs before he died. Bruce realizes now, as a father, that his Dad battled him/rode him so hard about choosing music because it wasn't a secure future and he, himself, failed at everything and his wife supported them. If you doubt the meaning and think it has religious overtones, watch it live/acoustic on youtube. Bruce rejected his CAtholicism early on, but some of his work has religious overtones. Jesus Was an Only Son came about when his first son EVAN, was born, and he realized how excruciating it was for Mary to watch Jesus. He doesn't go much further than that, though.
    brucejuiceon November 23, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmmmm. talk to your father. dont let awkwardness get in the way, cos someday the chance wont be there.
    notethetreeson May 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti always thought that my father might actually be a God reference... the language of sin and the devil, and the house... all really evoke a biblical toil
    myfriendbrennon October 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti always thought that my father might actually be a God reference... the language of sin and the devil, and the house... all really evoke a biblical toil
    myfriendbrennon October 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was thinking that it might be about not just reaching out to your father but to everyone in your life that you care about because they won't allways be there and i agree with "myfriendbrenn" in the sense that i think it may also be about sin in general and have a wider meaning: "Shining 'cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned"-it's not just that sin but many un-atoned sins that are allways haunting him and he knows that he can no longer make them right
    MrWafflesMonsteron October 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI definitely get the impression that the Father is really God, and that this house is really a church. The idea of the church shining "hard and bright," and "calling like a beacon of light" makes me think of the idea that a church as a beacon of light. Which ever way you look at this song, it's a great one. Definitely a shining point on one of Bruce's most emotional albums.

    If you haven't seen this cover by Ben Harper, it's definitely worth checking out:…
    controlfreakon October 23, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd agree that the Father is actually God, and that the narrator feels lost and hopelessly estranged from Him ("No one by that name lives here anymore"). It's interesting that this song is followed on the album by "Reason to Believe," which is peopled by characters who maintain faith even in the depths of grief and loss.
    persimmonon March 13, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of Springsteen's greatest songs, in my opinion.

    Irrelevant whether or not the "father" is question is God -- the theme of broken families certainly looms large in Springsteen's other songs, as do issues of faith, and both are contained here. The other recurring theme is the narrator's feeling of being helpless and lost.

    Fabulous last line!
    CompressedAireon June 28, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI guess the song works whether its about God or his father. Your parents will in many ways always have a Godlike quality to you. If they where/are good, bad or just never there; they still have/had a huge impact on your life. They are also the reason you're here today. I feel that the song is about loosing someone close to you, and realising that that person, and the times you had together will never come back. All that remains are memories, both the good and the bad.
    Untunedon May 16, 2013   Link

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