FROM GUEST BLOGGER, BILL WALKER...
There’s more than a few moments in The Rising in which Bruce Springsteen becomes the perfect version of himself. He turns the E-Street Band into his orchestra and uses the inspiration of the spirit of New York following 9/11 as a hopeful guide.
“Can’t see nothing in front of me, can’t see nothing behind me.”
It’s a sentiment we all felt in those days. We sat back, hugged our friends and families a little longer, smiled at a sunset and laughed at our good fortune, even when our national psyche was smoking rubble.
But there are also moments in the same album, when Springsteen gets the melancholy. He digs into his soul, reads his brothers’ faces and makes art. He sees the tears filled wrinkles of a firefighter and does what he does best, tells the story of their heartbreak.
The Rising may be the best album of my adult lifetime. There’s not been a moment in history in which our lives could have changed so dramatically as a country and Springsteen’s stories brought us all – rich and poor, all with crushed souls – together as one. It’s American songwriting at its best, leaving us crying yet hopeful.
A decade later, America has lost her way. We’ve become a nation of bickering fools. Yelling at each other just to get our point across over inane parts of the world in which we, nor our politicians, have a damn thing we can do about it.
Sure, the Dow Industrial is above 13,000 and we’re out of Iraq, and maybe we’re taking a turn for the better economically, but there is still too much strife on our doorstep. Too many crooked people walking free after ruining the livelihood of millions. Too many American dreams shattered like a mirror dropped from a 20th floor Wall Street window.
For three generations now, Springsteen has spoken, not to, but for those who will listen and those who just want to shout. But he’s never been this thoroughly angry and precise in his targets: the fools in charge of this ship.
You could write about Springsteen’s foray into hip-hop, or attempts to experiment, but at the core, it’s all Bruce. He could have walked away artistically years ago, instead, his ability to reach the heart of the country is as sharp as it was with Born to Run.
The reason he remains vital, isn’t just in the beauty of his story telling, though now it may be equal to Dylan or any other American songwriter, rather it’s in hope. No matter the depth of our despair or our lost ways, we can still be great and we are. We are different now than we were 11 years ago or even five, but we – as different and all-encompassing as we are – are still that.
“This train, carries losers and winners. This train, carries whores and gamblers. This train, carries lost souls. This train, dreams will not be thwarted. This train, faith will be rewarded.”
Time from time we need still need a reminder.