All It Ever Does Is Rain: Alienation of Labor in the Songs of Bruce Springsteen

12 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2012

See all articles by David Ray Papke

David Ray Papke

Marquette University - Law School

Date Written: December 12, 2012


While we have been inundated recently with talk of jobs and the need for more jobs, little of this talk explores labor in a more philosophical way. Somewhat surprisingly, the creative practice of Bruce Springsteen captures the role labor plays in our existential condition, in our relationships with one another, and in our understandings of ourselves. Selected songs relate to four aspects of the alienation of labor: alienation from the products our labor, alienation from the process of laboring, alienation from fellow workers, and alienation from ourselves as human beings. Karl Marx discussed the latter variety of alienation at some length in The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, concluding that “The object of labor is, therefore, the objectification of man’s species life; for he duplicates himself not only intellectually, as in consciousness, but also actively, in reality, and therefore contemplates himself in a world that he has created.” Springsteen has not single-handed exposed the dangers of alienated labor, and alienation of labor is not the only way alienation as a larger socio-cultural phenomenon comes about. But still, so much of contemporary labor drains away our humanity and leaves us feeling confused and incomplete.

Keywords: Bruce Springsteen, labor, unemployment, jobs, alienation

Suggested Citation

Papke, David Ray, All It Ever Does Is Rain: Alienation of Labor in the Songs of Bruce Springsteen (December 12, 2012). Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 12-30. Available at SSRN: or

David Ray Papke (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

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