Here goes with day 10 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection. They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released. You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions. Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).
Bruce Springsteen – The Rising
The Rising was the Boss’s first studio album for 7 years and his first collaboration with the wonderful E-Street Band for 18 years. The album holds a special place in my heart because I managed to see four european shows on the Rising tour. As I am sure everyone knows the album was Springsteen’s response to the 9/11 bombing (although some of the songs precede that awful event). In my view it was an incredibly brave decision to release the album so soon after the horror of that incredibly sad day. It would have been easy for Springsteen to have been accused of ‘cashing in’ on the deaths of so many. Of course anyone with even a passing knowledge of Springsteen and his music know that the man has a massive social conscience and he approached the event with care and sensitivity.
One might have expected songs full of anger and a thirst for revenge but Springsteen took a totally different approach. The songs are full of grace, care and tribute to those who died. They reflect sadness, loss and the bravery of those who gave their lives trying to save others. It is something of a memorial but it is delivered in powerful fashion lifted by hard, bright guitar licks delivered by Nils Lofgren, Steve Van Zandt and Springsteen himself. The thumping beats, two sets of keyboards, three guitars and of course Clarence Clemons Saxophone set the album apart from anything else released at the time.
Whilst the album is a reflection of hurt and loss there is an under story of hope. For example in ‘Into the Fire’ there is praise for the bravery of emergency service personnel who lost their lives but in the chorus it becomes an anthem of hope:
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love bring us love
Simple, beautiful and powerful, a message of love in the face of hate. In ’empty sky’ Springsteen gives voice to those new Yorkers who woke to lament the loss of Manhattans towering landmarks, it reflects the emptiness, incomprehension and inability to understand the actions of the terrorists on that day. ‘Nothing Man’, a haunting ballad, tries to explain how the rescuers who survived the day must have felt after being thrust into the limelight of media coverage as a result of their brave actions on that day.
“Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” with its big, meaty riff and strutting lyrics and “Let’s Be Friends”, with its bouncy beat wouldn’t seem at first listen to fit in but they are songs of hope, a promise that things will get better. The Rising is far from a call to arms, it is a call to rise above the injury, to rise above hatred and hurt.
Bruce Springsteen has gathered many a superlative over the years. The Rising is an album unlike any other, it is a truly soul wrenching experience. A remarkable piece of work.