Giving Hope: The anthem Bruce Springsteen called “one of my best”

Bruce Springsteen has always made music to translate specific emotions. It’s never easy to say what’s in your heart all the time, but Springsteen laid out the complex pieces of his soul that made him feel like he was in the room talking with you rather than preaching from a pulpit. This was the music for the everyman to embrace their insecurities, but when it came to dealing with national tragedies, Springsteen thought he one-upped himself with ‘The Rising’.

But when the world entered the 2000s, no one was really aching for a new Springsteen record anymore. He still had a lot more to say, but after the lacklustre performance of albums like Lucky Town, people were more inclined to watch ‘The Boss’ settle into his role as the king of dad rock, especially once he got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the late 1990s.

While Springsteen had settled into his role of making stirring folk songs on albums like The Ghost of Tom Joad, the world was slowly turning towards the newer sounds of garage rock from other East Coast bands like The Strokes. That rustic genre wasn’t what everyone wanted to hear, but after September 11th, 2001, everything seemed to come to a standstill.

The sight of seeing the Twin Towers collapse was enough to mortify anyone who saw the footage live on the air, but as one of the biggest names in New Jersey, Springsteen felt like everything was happening in his backyard. No one could have possibly sidestepped something like that, and The Rising was a way for him to process his grief.

Although most of the album leaves the details vague, the air of the terrorist attack is still heavy on Springsteen’s mind across every song. During the process of making the record, Springsteen ended up not only playing a handful of songs on benefit gigs but also working with victims of 9/11 to get an idea of who these people were who were killed that day.

Out of all the songs to come out of that batch of inspiration, Springsteen considers ‘The Rising’ as a foundational piece of his career, telling Jann Wenner, “I look back on that record, and it had too many songs, and the sequence probably wasn’t right. [But] it contains a couple of my really greatest songs. ‘The Rising’ is simply one of my best songs.”

For all of the connections to that tragic day, never for a moment does Springsteen sound like he’s trying to profit off of 9/11. These songs were intended to be played to help people get over that grief and find a way to carry on, and ‘The Rising’ might share a spot next to ‘Born to Run’ as one of the most engaging songs he has ever written.

Then again, not in the same that ‘Born to Run’ is, though. Springsteen’s signature tune is about two lovers flying away on a hotrod in search of somewhere beyond their nowhere town, but ‘The Rising’ feels like those people who stayed to see their city get destroyed and are determined not to let that defeat them. Some may try to shake their foundations, but nothing can break the kind of heart that’s born to persevere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *