Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a love mean and true
She said "Baby I'll work for you every day and bring my money home to you"
One day he up and left her and ever since that
She waits down at the end of that dirt road for young Johnny to come back
Struck me kinda funny seemed kind of funny sir to me
How at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Take a baby to the river Kyle William they called him
Wash the baby in the water take away little Kyle's sin
In a whitewash shotgun shack an old man passes away take his body to the graveyard and over him they pray Lord won't you tell us
tell us what does it mean
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Congregation gathers down by the riverside
Preacher stands with his Bible groom stands waitin' for his bride
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a weepin' willow tree
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly
Wonderin' where can his baby be still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Lyrics submitted by Hunter

Reason To Believe song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentI am surprised that there aren't more comments about this song other than those noting its simplicity. I couldn't disagree more. For over 30 years I've pondered the last verse. The first three verses set up the theme clearly enough: mortality, love, superstition, ritual.

    But the last verse breaks the narrative. We have a wedding scene, which combines all four elements of the early verses. But then suddenly he's alone, lamenting some kind of metaphoric loss. His freedom? His youth?

    It's like in the 4th verse, Springsteen takes the song and turns it upside down. The "reason to believe" is no longer ironic, but nihilistic. "Struck me kinda funny" no more.
    ZFTon July 17, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"Reason to Believe" reminds me somewhat of "Born in the USA" in that upon first listen, the sound of the song gives one distinct impression, though deeper examination of the lyrics gives one a slightly different one. "Born in the USA" has a chorus that, if one wasn't paying attention, seems like a joyous expression of patriotism.

    Similarly, "Reason to Believe," being probably the most upbeat song on the Nebraska album, appears to close the album with a lingering hopefulness after the bleak nature of first nine songs. Though immediately in the first verse, Springsteen paints a pathetic picture, of a man hoping against all reasonable hope that his dog will spring to life and return to the way it once was. Though the man somehow has found "a reason to believe," this verse is far from inspiring and comes across as merely sad. Could Springsteen be employing a touch of uncharacteristic ironic humor?

    The following verses continue the themes of loss. Though each character does maintain hope, Springsteen never gives any of these characters fulfillment, and leaves them waiting and longing for the days before their loss.

    This makes "Reason to Believe" a perfect fit as closer to a near perfect album.
    Vikings09on November 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHaunting harmonica - wow, what a song - derivative of old down south south country/blues
    nagromnaion January 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is self-explanatory, so no real need for discussion. its one of his best songs, he puts so much feeling into it.
    wordsofamutemanon March 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful song. Even though there is not much to interpretation, his imagery of how people can hope when they are hopeless is a pricless slice of Americana.
    Pirtyfool22on May 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAwesome songs - especially the live version from the boxset.
    mobstacliqueon August 04, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPersonally I find this one of Springsteen's most touching songs. Haunting in its portrayal of people clinging to hope in the face of adversity and life's way of kicking you in the a**. Terrific, powerful song. I agree with Mobstaclique, the version from the live box set is awesome.
    rmcd0494on August 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningEven though I am not religious, and even though I suspect Bruce for being pretty religious, I think Bruce in this song describes moments where you stop believing. When things are so sad and unbearable you really feel like there isn't anything to believe in, because the things you believed in, or made you able to live happily, now are gone.

    For me my hope of falling in love someday and my family and dog are what makes me able to live, because those feelings I share with them are the feelings I believe in.
    Esbenon December 12, 2012   Link

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