Monday, December 21, 2009

Albums Of The Decade : 18 - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - The Rising (2002)

The story goes that, soon after the shocking events of 9/11 took place, a stranger in a passing car rolled down his window upon seeing Bruce Springsteen and told the New Jersey poet laureate 'We need you now'. Trying to make some sense of such a monumental tragedy would have been a tall order for anyone, but on an artistic level it seemed to galvanise a man who hadn't released a truly essential album since 87's Tunnel of Love. The Rising was a poignant, often heart-rending but ultimately hopeful album that eschewed political overtones for the most part, instead focusing on individual bravery and courage. One could quibble about the album's over-long and slightly jarring mid-section, but it shouldn't take away from the stunning stretch of songs that begins with the defiantly optimistic 'Mary's Place' before taking in the almost unbearable sadness of 'You're Missing' and the bleak, uncompromising 'Paradise' before the quietly dignified closer 'My City of Ruins'. In the middle of all that, the title track is surely one of Springsteen's greatest compositions: seemingly taking the viewpoint of a firefighter ascending one of the towers, it makes for a stirring ode to human courage despite its sombre subject matter.

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