Scratched Into Our Souls

Bruce Springsteen – ‘The Rising’ | September 11, 2010

It’s been nine years since that tragic day. You know which one I’m talking about – you remember where you were the moment you heard planes had been flown into the World Trade Center in New York City, forever shattering the blissful optimism of the post-Cold War 90s and changing the world and the Manhattan skyline, taking innocent lives with it. Following 9/11, our lives have all changed. There is no bright side to the events of that day, but some of the most moving art has been born out of the ashes. Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising is but one example. Who better than Bruce to create an album to remember those who have passed on before their time, creating an album that didn’t play off fears but celebrated the sacrifice of heroes and mourned the loss of loved ones. Toby Keith – and the rest of CMT – should be ashamed of themselves.

Bruce Springsteen – The Rising (2002) – Following the tragedy of 9/11, The Boss gives America not what it wants, but what it needs.

In the months following the tragedy of 9/11, Bruce Springsteen was busy at work on his comeback-album following the reunion of the E Street Band. As Springsteen was trying to decide what it meant to be a part of the E Street Band once again, he was writing songs that would deal with what it meant to be an American following such a horrific attack against our nation. Smartly, while Country Music Television wrote songs imploring a preemptive ass-kicking against the Middle East, Springsteen realized that revenge was not actually going to get the world anywhere; an eye for an eye would only make us all blind with rage and ignorance.

Instead, Springsteen focused his songs on creating a sense of community, creating an album that was a fitting tribute to the fallen heroes and the unfortunate victims of the attacks, and subsequently giving those of us left behind a place to gather and celebrate their lives. Think of it as a musical forum for mourning: Springsteen’s songs on The Rising are the most gospel influenced he has ever written, while still sounding like a natural extension of Springsteen’s 70’s classic rock sound. The album’s opening tracks set the tone. “Lonesome Day” takes the perspective of somebody who has lost a loved one and needs to find the strength to somehow get through each day, one day at a time. “Into The Fire” is a memorial to the firefighters who risked their lives for the lives of others that day, as they travelled “up the stairs, into the fire.” The album continues like this, with song after song of Springsteen telling it like it is, expressing as much mourning as can fit into one album. The song titles practically say it all: “Nothing Man,” “You’re Missing,” “My City of Ruins,” “Empty Sky.” The album’s two highlights are the ones that create the deepest sense of community: “Mary’s Place” and “The Rising.” The former sounds like a call to celebrate the life of a loved one as opposed to mourning their passing, and the later is the best song Springsteen has written since “I’m On Fire.” 

With each passing year, the emotions felt on a day like September 11th become less and less tangible as they slowly become memories. With that, too, the sense of deep loss at those who left us that day is simultaneously forgotten, for better or worse. When I listen to The Rising, Springsteen seems to have offered to take on the burden of helping America through her grief. For the first time in years, Springsteen sounded proud to be born in the USA, and seems to have instinctively known that nobody was born to run from tragedy.

Listen: Bruce Springsteen – “The Rising”


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    About Me: Chris Robinson

    A budding writer and avid music fan from Los Angeles, California, I am a recent graduate of Music History from UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. I've written for the UCLA Daily Bruin, graduated valedictorian from high school, and enjoy many different types of music, from The Beatles to Beethoven, and everything in between. I wrote my senior thesis on lyrical misinterpretations in popular music, focusing on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

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    All music posted on this blog is for sampling purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Go out and buy their music, attend their shows, and buy merchandise.

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