Starting in ’02 and sporadically from then on, I’ve been listening to “Nothing Man” — replaying over and over at first, presently now and then, sometimes forgotten or put aside but never entirely gone. It’s like a friend, this song. Something I trust and rely upon from time to time.
Springsteen’s lyrics and vocal delivery are on the opaque side; the hook aspects have more to do with the “duh-doo-doo-doo-doo” choir at the end plus the French horn plus the modified, low-register cymbal crash it begins with.
Above and beyond the allusion to 9/11 horror (“misty cloud of pink vapor”), it resonates, I think, because everyone feels wiped out or hollowed out at one time or another — alive and focused as far as it goes but without much inside, at least for the time being.
Anyway, I decided roughly 16 years ago that this might be my favorite Springsteen song of all time.