The Rising

I believe that every song is written out of the writer’s own valuable reason what they often refer to as, “inspiration”. Thoughts and stories crafted with the writer’s own style, songs are inspired and made to inspire. I strongly believe that what touches the heart of music lovers is the way the lyrics of the song relate to their own experience, belief and dreams and for the artists to be loved by the people is a matter of a “bonus”. As with Bruce Springsteen, who was the person behind “The Rising” music has to be of “trusting the art, not the artist” (B. Springsteen, Time Magazine).

The Rising is just one of the 911-inspired songs of his come album of the same title which, despite its intense empathy towards the people of America after September 11, 2006, had been plague with criticisms. Known as a rock artist, Springsteen has his heart on the working sector of the society representing the most ordinary people of America. As Senator John Kerry commented in an interview with USA Today, “He’s a street poet who really is in touched with currents and real people’s dilemmas” (USA Today, July 14, 2002). I think this is what made Springsteen as Springsteen and what made “The Rising” the song of hope for America.

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Setting aside Springsteen as the artist, The Rising, especially for those who have lost their loved ones when the Twin Towers crashed into dust will find its place in the hearts of the listeners. “Come up on the rising, come up lay your hands in mine; come up for the rising, come on up for the rising tonight.” For people to lose even the most valuable property they have is even lighter than to lose a beloved whose life will never be brought back. The powerful America can possibly raise another Twin Towers, even better and stronger Twin Towers. But the power and money of America can never bring back a single life to comfort its people. The only thing then that holds the people of America is hope. What The Rising wants to do is to call the people of America to hold on, have faith, unite and rise from the ashes of 911. “So it’s not hard to imagine that with The Rising, Springsteen’s urgency stems from the realization that what Americans need most right now—with the Sept. 11 anniversary looming and things looking pretty shitty in general—is also that feeling of uplift” (F. Mills, The Seattle Weekly).

‘There are spirits above and behind me, faces gone black, eyes burning bright; may their precious blood bind me, Lord as I stand before your fiery light.” As emphatic and emotional as the lines of the song reveal, Springsteen never escaped controversy and accusations of “riding” with the current social situation. As the famous national pop critic Tom Moon said, it is just one of “a scorched earth” publicity campaign linking Sept. 11 with The Rising.” Moon in this statement was referring to the whole album. But who will judge the popularity of the song and the success of the album will still be the listeners, of whom Springsteen intended to touch rather than to please. As the lyrics suggest, Springsteen has great admiration for those who have shed precious blood in the name of duty, for the love of their countrymen and for their concern to their beloved home, America.

Closely looking into the chronology of events in the song, The Rising narrates the how dreadful were the days when Twin Towers crumbled to the ground after 911, how empty was the former busy city and how preoccupied were the people with worries fears and anger. Despite those scenarios, The Rising still calls for the best remedy at hand: to come up on the rising. “The Rising is an attempted portrait of a defining moment in American history” (G. Sanchez). After the creepy spirits above and behind and the faces gone black, Springsteen bring the listeners to the brighter side of things. “There are holy pictures of our children, dancing in a sky filled with light.” This made me think that Springsteen really is serious of being thoughtful and honest, which according to him will make people listen.  “That’s where your creative authority comes from. That’s how people know you’re not just taking a ride” (B. Springsteen, Time Magazine).

Springsteen seem to have a sincere purpose of inspiring America in the The Rising. At the end of the song is a description of the whole situation of the American nation after 911. “Sky of blackness and sorrow, sky of love, sky of tears; sky of glory and sadness sky of mercy, sky of fear; sky of memory and shadow.” All of the possible emotions of everyone who have witnessed the dreadful even were collected by the writer in one single song, clearly trying to make listeners understand that they are being understood and that the writer does grieve with them. But more importantly, the writer dreams with them of remaking America the sky of love and glory, of mercy and of fullness. “The Rising is about Sept. 11, and it is the first significant piece of pop art to respond to the events of that day” (J. Tyrangiel).

The Rising, along with the other songs in the album, Lonesome Day, Empty Sky and Into the Fire, made it to the heart of the people as evidenced by the 526,000 copies sold on the first week of its launching and by making it at the No.1 spot in the Billboard Top 200 (Seattle Weekly). Its writer, Bruce Springsteen is just one of the many song writers who craft their songs for the purpose of carrying their listeners away. Where difference lies in recording the The Rising according to him is that he was “writing about something that everyone saw and had some experience with, and obviously some people experienced it much more intimately.”