The Rising (2002)

1. Lonesome Day 2. Into the Fire 3. Waitin' on a Sunny Day 4. Nothing Man 5. Counting on a Miracle 6. Empty Sky 7. Worlds Apart 8. Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin) 9. Further On (Up the Road) 10.The Fuse 11.Mary's Place 12.You're Missing 13.The Rising 14.Paradise 15.My City of Ruins


If anything good came out of the 9/11 tragedy it would be that, for a time, Americans seem to unite and be more caring and more tolerant of one and other. Political sparring was temporarily on hold and people seemed to have a genuine sense of compassion. If any residual side effects came from this tragedy that were not welcome, it was that the entertainment industry seemed compelled to "benefit" us to death. Every time you turned around, someone, somewhere was doing another "project" in memory of the tragedy. When Springsteen announced that his new album would follow in this vein, a lot of people responded with a blase attitude.

What surprised nearly everyone was that Springsteen churned out his best work in well over a decade. It was surprising because Bruce was known for his plights for the oppressed, and in many people's minds, the thought of this record was just one more piece of fodder for The Boss to chew on and have something else to moan about. What Springsteen managed to do, was make a heartwarming tribute without sounding too miserable. Quite a difficult thing to do when you think about the subject. The first thing he does well is that he doesn't take sides. He doesn't join the lunatic far-left that seemed to think our country "deserved" this or, worse, was an "inside job". Yet he doesn't cross over to the right with the fervent patriotic ardor of killing everyone "responsible" for the tragedy. No, these were common people that were the most affected, and it's these common people that he sings about with stunning compassion.

Yes, he's always sang about the common man, but with this release, the events hit random characters. Some of these individuals never knew, nor obviously expected, any sort of tragedy in their lives, and the events of that September day blindsided them to where they were still numb several years after. Such tunes as You're Missing and Lonesome Day simply resonate the cold fact that life will never be the same, and these individuals are forced to look at events in ways they never imagined. He then addresses how this affects the "heroes", specifically the firefighters, many who lost their lives on Into the Fire. The ones that somehow survived are deeply affected as well as in Nothing Man.

You can even here the plea for understanding between two very unique cultures (World's Apart) and the desire to curb the void of understanding in Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin). I haven't studied the album too meticulously, so I'm not sure how songs such as Further On (Up the Road) or Mary's Place fit in with the overall theme, but all the songs are strong. 15 total songs does seem a bit heavy, but all of the songs are very powerful, and there is no filler.

This was also the first record Bruce did with The E Street Band (and the best) since Born in the U.S.A.. Yes, it does sound a bit different than older E Street Band stuff, but, come on, it had been over 15 years. And let's face it, it wasn't 1978 anymore. It surprises me how many "original" fans snubbed this one. The overall joy in the record is being able to remember the tragedy, but in a sad, yet not frightening way. It's a timeless record.

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