The Rising

I’ve been really enjoying this song by Bruce Springsteen called ‘The Rising’. While listening to it in the car Fani told me that it was written as a response to the attacks of September 11th. I like it even more now. The only song in response to the attacks I knew of was very aggressive. I find The Rising appropriately spiritual.

Performance of the Rising:

I looked it up on Wikipedia, and this is what we had to say:

The song tells the story of a New York Fire Department firefighter, climbing one of the World Trade Center towers after the hijacked planes had hit them. The lyric depicts the surreal, desperate environment in which he finds himself:

Can’t see nothin’ in front of me,
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind …
I make my way through this darkness,
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me.
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed …
On my back’s a sixty-pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line

The choruses are more upbeat, featuring a more pronounced drum part and “Li, li, li” vocal parts, but as the song progresses the verses trace the ever more dire situation. Images of fire engines and the Cross of Saint Florian are introduced, and then, “in the garden of a thousand sighs,” a series of final visions: his wife, his children, and all human experience:

Sky of blackness and sorrow ( dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears ( dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness ( dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear ( dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow ( dream of life)

The single was released ahead of the album, initially appearing on AOL First Listen on June 24, 2002. There was a considerable marketing push for the single and the subsequent album, based on the September 11 connection and on being the first studio recordings from Springsteen with the E Street Band in 15 years. “The Rising” also debuted Springsteen’s collaboration with producer Brendan O’Brien, who gave Springsteen a somewhat more modern-sounding feel than did former producer Jon Landau. Although “The Rising” was not a pop hit, peaking at only #52 on the Billboard Hot 100, it achieved significant radio airplay in some quarters, making #24 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and #16 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the U.S. It did not place on the UK Singles Chart.

No music video was made for “The Rising”.

Critical reaction to “The Rising” was generally positive. Allmusic called it “one of Mr. Springsteen’s greatest songs. It is an anthem, but not in the sense you usually reference in regard to his work. This anthem is an invitation to share everything, to accept everything, to move through everything individually and together.” Rolling Stone worried that, “As with ‘Born in the U.S.A.’, the title … may mislead some who hear it, particularly those intent on retaliation, which Springsteen himself shows little interest in contemplating. His concern is not with a national uprising but with a rising above: the transcending of ever-mounting losses and ancient hatreds.”[2] The New York Times described “The Rising” as a work in which “one man’s afterlife is an endless longing for the physical touch of those left behind, and the music climbs toward jubilation as an act of will.”[3]

In looking up the song, I found this interview from the Letterman show in which Mr. Springsteen talks about his writing/creative process. You have to wait till about the third minute for the good stuff.