Monday, September 11, 2006

A Look Back... With Thanks!

It's been a busy day for me. I haven't had too much time to reflect on the date.... However, now that I sit here and think about it it's all rushing back.

I don't have the energy to write about it. At least, not again.

Below is a post I wrote many months ago. I think it fits today. Excuse me for my laziness but I don't think I could write it better today than back in January.

I think this post would be better suited for "Forgotten Disc Friday" but four years removed isn't quite long enough to be a "forgotten" disc. I wrote the following for a Springsteen board and thought I'd share it here. It's painfully obvious to anyone who reads this blog that I have quite an obsession with Bruce Springsteen's music. I think this post will go a little way towards explaining why.... Some of my friends still question it sometimes.

I guess what it comes down to is THIS album....

"The Rising" was/is one of the defining moments of my life in terms of being a fan of music. It goes a long way towards explaining why music is so important in general... the power it can have in everyone's life. I think anyone who has a place for music as an essential part of life has one or two of these records.

This is mine,


It's all at once amazing and sad that it's been almost four years since that album came out. I still turn to it and take great solace in it even today.I remember before it came out I was a bit lost in the aftermath of 9/11.

Living here in NJ, only 20 miles from NYC, was different than living in the middle of the country or the West Coast. Not saying those people weren't dealing with it but it wasn't the same... It just couldn't be. Up to that point, no artist had tackled the real issues of that day. Sure you had some country artist and southern rock bands talking about the "red, white & blue" and about "sticking a foot up someone's ass" but that was just gut reaction stuff and seemed very trite and silly to me.

I put this album on and after a listen I said to myself "Jesus, Bruce GETS it!"

I mean, he just really got it! It wasn't revenge that was important it was understanding.

Understanding what was important in our views of family, love, forgiveness, FAITH, community and loss. It was understanding how to TRY and come to terms with those things that really keep us going. It was the first album Bruce put out after I became a big fan in the summer of '99. All at once, my faith in him as an artist was rewarded and justified!

Not all the songs were written in direct response to 9/11. Some were in the can well before that day. However, that never seemed to matter to me. There was a reason they were held back and maybe fate just dictated that this was the time to let go of them. This was a perfect example of the whole outweighing the sum of its' parts. I wouldn't remove a single song from "The Rising" Not a single one. It is a perfect blend of sadness and hope. Much like life itself.

1) Lonesome Day - Is just as relevant today as it was then...If not more so.

"Better ask questions before you shoot
Deceit and betrayals bitter fruit
It's hard to swallow, come time to pay
That taste on your tongue don't easily slip away

Let kingdom come I'm gonna find my way
Through this lonesome day"


2) Into the Fire - Many people have said this is a weak song. It's the most simplistic of all the songs on the record but that was always the point for me. The people the song is honoring, the FDNY, have a pretty straight forward job. They run into burning buildings while everyone is running out. The simple refrain of

"May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love"

is really stated perfectly. What else is there to say really? Other than.....

"Thank you"

3) Waiting on a Sunny Day - That's all we did in the NY area for a long time after 9/11. "It's raining bit there ain't a cloud in the sky....everything will be okay" "Don't worry we're gonna find a way" Hope, hope, hope!

4) Nothing Man - That's what those 3,000 people became. Unknown faces and lives lost. You felt for everyone of them. If you were actually lucky enough not to know anyone personally you took solace in that while never losing sight of other's extreme and very real loss. This song gives a voice to all the "unknown" of that day.

5) Counting on a Miracle - The most underrated track on the album, IMO. It was never as good live as it here which is usually the reverse.... Again, loss and faith. The character in the song is talking about losing the love of his life and finding the strength to go forward.

"We've got no fairytale ending
In God's hands our fate is complete
Your heaven's here in my heart
Our love's this dust beneath my feet
Just this dust beneath my feet

If I'm gonna live
I'll life my life
Darlin' to you"

One of the least talked about set of lyrics in Bruce's entire catalogue.

6) Empty Sky - Again... Revenge, loss, love, faith.... It's all here.

"I woke up this morning
I could barely breathe
Just an empty impression
In the bed where you used to be
I want a kiss from your lips
I want an eye for an eye
I woke up this morning to the empty sky"

7) World's Apart - The most challenging song on the record. It talks again about love and loss and it's theme and lyrics fit like a glove here.

"Sometimes the truth just ain't enough
Or is it too much in times like this
Let's throw the truth away we'll find it in this kiss
In your skin upon my skin in the beating of our hearts
May the living let us in before the dead tear us apart"

8) Let's Be Friends - The ugly duckling of the record. I think most people never took to this one because Bruce never figured out to make it work in concert. A perfect summer barbecue song. Again, there are lives to be lead after great loss. This one is about taking a shot and trying to be happy! After all, life's too short to live with "what if"

9) Further On Up The Road - Written before 9/11 this tune found a nice home here. Theme wise, it fits well and provides a nice "rocker" to go along with "Lonesome Day"

"Now I been out in the desert, just doin' my time
Searchin' through the dust, lookin' for a sign
If there's a light up ahead well brother I don't know
But I got this fever burnin' in my soul
So let's take the good times as they go
And I'll meet you further on up the road"

Heaven or earth? Depends on the person I suppose. Either way, it's about faith.

10) The Fuse - Another "better on the album than live" track for me. Is about lust or revenge? Maybe both. The character in the song is dealing with some sort of loss and a fire building up inside of him. Where does he turn with it?

"Tell me Baby who do you trust?"

11) Mary's Place - Another "less favorite" tune among fans. It was overkill live.... At it's core it's about loss and about getting on with it afterwards. A tune that encourages celebration of life instead of dwelling on death.

I had a friend who's mother died of cancer a couple of years after this record came out. She was too young to go and she suffered for years and years with the whole ordeal. It really took her slowly. Anyway, I saw her quite a bit in the year leading up to her death and she never asked for anyone's pity. She was always quicker to ask and care how you were doing than have you worry one second about her. She was one the most genuine and wonderful people I ever met with a heart the size of Texas. When she passed she left words to her children to celebrate life and keep going. To love one another and remember the good times! As a coincidence her name was Mary.... This one always makes me smile...

"My heart's dark but it's risin'
I'm pullin' all the faith I can see
From that black hole on the horizon
I hear your voice calling me

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain"

12. You're Missing - This one is the KILLER! Really, really sad. Bruce's solo performance at SNL really nailed it! I picture the widow's of 9/11 every time I hear this one. It's beauty is it's simple presentation. It's respectful tribute to love lost and the reality of the family needing to go on without...

"Morning is morning, the evening falls I have
Too much room in my bed, too many phone calls
How's everything, everything?
Everything, everything

You're missing, you're missing"

13. The Rising - One of the greatest songs Bruce ever wrote, period! Lyrically it's PERFECT. In fact, the entire album can be summed up in the following...

"I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There's holy pictures of our children
Dancin' in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin' on the end of the line

Sky of blackness and sorrow ( a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness ( a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear ( a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow ( a dream of life)
Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life ( a dream of life)"

14) Paradise - The other most underrated tune on here. It's speaks to me as a person dreaming of their lost love and child. It's challenging because of its' stark nature. Very unlike anything else on the record but theme wise it's perfect. Again, it speaks of faith or a challenge of that faith. Someone operating in the thoughts of suicide but forcing themselves forward with the hopes of seeing their lost love(s) on "the other side"

15) My City of Ruins - Another one written before 9/11. It's actually about Asbury Park but fate put a different spin on it... The perfect bookend to the album. Also, the perfect parting thought for anyone coming to end of this musical journey.

A final reminder of what "it" is supposed to be about!

Family, love, faith, forgiveness, community, loss and in it's most basic and important sense... LIFE!

"Now with these hands,
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray Lord
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray for the strength, Lord
With these hands,
With these hands,
I pray for the faith, Lord
We pray for your love, Lord
We pray for the lost, Lord
We pray for this world, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord
We pray for the strength, Lord

Come on
Come on
Come on, rise up"

In the end, "The Rising" isn't a political statement or a call to arms. It's a simple reflection on universal themes of life and the general themes that bind us all together as human beings.

It's one of the most important albums of my life and a welcomed reminder that someone actually got "it"

Thanks Bruce!


Blogger Hotwire said...

first of all, i have to say that this post is spectacular. first of all, i really like your idea that we all have defining albums, and this is one of mine as well (along with Jackson Browne "Late for the Sky" and Bruce's "Born to Run").

your depiction of this album is spot on, especially with your tought that "into the fire" is not a weak link. this, along with "you're missing" and "empty sky" are a heartbreaking trio.

10:56 AM  
Blogger March to the Sea said...

this post is full of so much kick assery i need to go have me another more "critical" listen. well done man.A+

1:40 PM  
Blogger Annoyed said...

Thanks to bith of you for taking the time to actually read this!

I know it's long...


I find when listened to straight through the impact is greater than skipping around.

It really works best as a whole.

Again, it was just the perfect album for me at a critical time of my life... It may not mean the same to someone else.

Enjoy the critical listen :-)

"Drop the needle and pray"

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, perhaps i'm an idiot I've never heard this album, I've just got some snippets from I tunes and I like it and agree with It's great!!

you are spot on with your depiciton!!

Great post as per usual


1:50 AM  
Blogger Boo7 said...

Hello Annoyed.....

I hope it's OK that I added you to my blog....I came across yours a couple of weeks ago through a blog search I think....and absolutely loved your blog title and have enjoyed reading it ever since!

6:09 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

(Just tried to post this and think that my comment was eaten. I apologize if it's a duplicate.)

I'm a little late in reading this, but I really wanted to say thanks for writing it. I've been a Springsteen fan since eighth grade (and I'm way, way...way past that now), seen him umpteen times and although I'm behind everything he does, for some reason I was "afraid" of this album. I was afraid people would say it wasn't good, that it was insincere, or that somehow I wouldn't like it or identify it. I bought the cd and didn't listen to it for a few days. Finally while I was poking around on the internet one day, I decided to pop it in to my computer. It only took me about two minutes to realize that I should have been ashamed for worrying and that I can always trust him. I grabbed the cd booklet so I could read the lyrics and by track 2 was completely in tears singing along, "May your strength give us strength. May your faith give us faith. May your hope give us hope. May your love bring us love." Crap. I'm tearing up now. I also really agree with your comment about the album's power when taken as a whole. I don't know if any other songwriter will ever affect me like this. Thank you so much for writing this. It's really nice to read something by someone else who gets it.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous jocking said...

Insightful, very personal analysis. Beautifully written. Thanks, also, for rihesponding to the mean-spirited, vitrolic Daryl D.

12:06 PM  

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