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Review by Thomas R. Fletcher:

Bruce Springsteen "The Rising"

(Columbia)

 

I am not a gushing Springsteen fan. Until now, I have never purchased a Springsteen album or CD. I heard a couple of cuts from The Rising. Impressed with what I heard, I picked the CD up at Wal-mart. Money well-invested. This CD is largely a tribute to and written from the perspectives of victims and families of 9/11–though the day is never mentioned. Springsteen has created a milestone collection of heart-rending lyrics and rocking tunes. This is music with higher aspirations than the vacuous, self-indulgent licentiousness that fills so much of the airwaves. Music has the potential to lessen the hurt and expedite the healing process. Here is a CD that rises to the occasion. Known for his music being "from the gut," I believe this originated from a source a bit further north, for it is the heart that it grips. The writing and the music eloquently convey loneliness, anguish, sorrow, hurt and healing, doubt, faith and hope. It is the music our nation needs in the healing process. It’s about time there be some music worth writing about.

The haunting, mournful wail of the harmonica of Empty Sky echoes the longing and loss felt for a loved one snatched away–and the natural desire for vengeance. "I woke up this morning...just an impression in the bed where you used to be...I want a kiss from your lips, I want an eye for and eye...I woke up this morning to an empty sky."

You’re Missing nails some of these same emotions. "Shirts in the closet, shoes in the hall...but you’re missing...your house is waiting for you to walk in...but you’re missing...I got too much room in my bed...you’re missing."

Further On (Up the Road) is a hard-charging jam that holds forth the truth that one day we will see those loved ones who’ve gone before us. "One sunny mornin’, we’ll rise I know, and I’ll meet you a little further on up the road."

The Rising, title track, tells the story of a fireman climbing the stairs to his own death. "Left the house this morning, bells ringing filled the air, wearing the cross of my calling on wheels of fire I come rollin’ down here...There’s spirits above and behind me, faces gone black, eyes burnin’ bright. May [your*] precious blood bind me Lord, as I stand before your fiery light." (*The lyrics sheet says "their precious blood," but after listening to the song repeatedly I hear Springsteen say "your precious blood.")

Paradise, a melancholy ballad with some beautiful acoustic guitar work, tells the story of one who has lost a loved one, considered suicide, but decides to face life instead.

"Tell me how do I begin again? My city’s in ruins...with these hands, I pray Lord...I pray for the strength, Lord...I pray for the faith, Lord...I pray for your love, Lord." My City of Ruins, though written before 9/11, blends perfectly with those written afterward.

Faith is a theme woven throughout the CD–faith that it will get better, faith that the hurt will heal. Though written largely around the 9/11 event, the music transcends that tragic event to touch on the universal. I predict an instant classic. The loneliness, anguish, sorrow, doubt, hope, and faith so palpable on this CD is a reflection of the tapestry of life. We will all experience these to one degree or another at some point in our lives. It is easy to get hung up on the loneliness and sorrow. Sometimes we need a nudge toward to faith and hope segment of the emotional spectrum. This CD provides that nudge. I don’t consider myself an overly sensitive man, I’m more of a mountain man. Six-foot-one, 210 pounds, I cut and split my own firewood, but on more than one track I found myself too teary-eyed to clearly read the lyrics. This CD will undoubtedly provide a needed catharsis for many. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

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