Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He was raised Roman Catholic. His early influences included Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and the Beatles. Bruce released his debut album, GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J., in January of 1973. In 2002 he released THE RISING (Columbia), his twelfth studio album and his first with the E Street Band since 1984’s BORN IN THE U.S.A. Brendan O’Brien, who would later produce Third Day’s MIRACLE, produced the album. THE RISING debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Chart and sold over 520,000 copies in the first week! It won a Grammy for ‘Best Rock Album’.
Starting things off is the album’s second single, ‘Lonesome Day’. It hit #36 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 Chart. Soozie Tyrell plays violin and contributes background vocals on this song that includes these powerful lyrics: “Better ask questions before you shoot/Deceit and betrayal’s bitter fruit/It’s hard to swallow come time to pay/That taste on your tongue don’t easily slip away/Let kingdom come/I’m gonna find my way/Through this lonesome day”. ‘Into the Fire’ is a pleasant song that includes these prayerful words: “May your strength give us strength/May your faith give us faith/May your hope give us hope/May your love bring us love”. ‘Waitin’ on a Sunny Day’ was a #15 hit in Sweden. On this breezy pop song, Bruce pours out his heart: “Without you, I’m workin’ with the rain fallin’ down/I’m half a party in a one dog town/I need you to chase these blues away/Without you I’m a drummer, girl that can’t keep a beat/An ice cream truck on a deserted street/I hope that you’re coming to stay/I’m waitin’, waitin’ on a sunny day/Gonna chase the clouds away/Waitin’ on a sunny day”.
‘Nothing Man’ sounds like a ballad told from the perspective of a soldier who has returned home: “I never thought I’d live to read about myself in my hometown paper/How my brave young life was forever changed/In a misty cloud of pink vapor/Darlin’ give me your kiss/Only understand I am the nothing man.../Around here, everybody acts like nothing’s changed...” ‘Countin’ on A Miracle’ is a rock masterpiece about a romantic relationship: “I’m runnin’ through the forest with the wolf at my heels/My king is lost at midnight when the tower bells peal/We’ve got no fairytale ending/In God’s hands our fate is complete/Your heaven’s here in my heart/Our love’s this dust beneath my feet/Just this dust beneath my feet/If I’m gonna live I’ll lift my life/Darlin’ to you”. The song makes use of the Nashville String Machine. Brendan O’Brien plays the hurdy gurdy on ‘Empty Sky’, a rock ballad about being lonely: “I woke up this morning, I could barely breathe/Just an empty impression/In the bed where you used to be/I want a kiss from your lips/I want an eye for an eye/I woke up this morning to an empty sky”.
‘Worlds Apart’ is a rock gem featuring the talents of Asif Ali Khan and Group. It runs over six minutes long and is a cry for unity: “We’ll let blood build a bridge over mountains draped in stars/I’ll meet you on the ridge, between these worlds apart/We’ve got this moment now to live, then it’s all just dust and dark/Let love give what it gives/Let’s let love give what it gives”. ‘Let’s Be Friends (Skin to Skin)’ is a happy pop song desiring intimacy: “I been watchin’ you a long time/Trying to figure out where and when/We been moving down that same line/The time is now/Maybe we could get skin to skin/Don’t know when this chance might come again/Good times got a way of comin’ to an end”. ‘Further On (Up the Road)’ is a manly rocker that offers hope to travelers on life’s journey: “I got a song to sing, to keep me out of the cold/And I’ll meet you further on up the road/Further on up the road/Further on up the road/Where the way is dark and the night is cold/One sunny mornin’/We’ll rise I know/And I’ll meet you further on up the road”.
‘The Fuse’ is all about human desire: “A quiet afternoon, an empty house/On the edge of the bed you slip off your blouse/The room is burning with the noon sun/Your bittersweet taste on my tongue/The fuse is burning/Shut out the lights/The fuse is burning/Come on, let me do you right”. ‘Mary’s Place’ is a carefree adult rock song that features the Alliance Singers and a horn section: “Meet me at Mary’s place, we’re gonna have a party (2X)/Tell me how do we get this thing started?/Meet me at Mary’s place/Familiar faces around me/Laughter fills the air/Your loving grace surrounds me/Everybody’s here/Furniture’s out on the front porch/Music’s up loud/I dream of you in my arms/I lose myself in the crowd”. ‘You’re Missing’ is a quiet song about grief: “Morning is morning, the evening falls/I got too much room in my bed/Too many phone calls/How’s everything, everything?/Everything (2X)/You’re missing (2X)/God’s drifting in heaven/Devil’s in the mailbox/I got dust on my shoes, nothing but teardrops”.
The album’s title track and lead single, ‘The Rising’, is up next. It won a Grammy for ‘Best Rock Song’ and also for ‘Best Male Rock Vocal Performance’. It’s a terrific answer to 9/11: “I left the house this morning/Bells ringing filled the air/I was wearin’ the cross of my calling/On wheels of fire I come rollin’ down here/Come on up for the rising/Come on up, lay your hands in mine/Come on up for the rising/Come on up for the rising tonight.../There’s spirits above and behind me/Faces gone black, eyes burnin’ bright/May their precious blood bind me/Lord, as I stand before your fiery light.../A dream of life comes to me/Like a catfish dancin’ on the end of my line”. ‘Paradise’ is a mellow song with cryptic lyrics: “I sink ‘neath the water cool and clear/Drifting down I disappear/I see you on the other side/I search for the peace in your eyes/But they’re as empty as paradise/They’re as empty as paradise”. Last up is ‘My City of Ruins’, a gospel influenced number: “Now there’s tears on the pillow/Darlin’ where we slept/And you took my heart when you left/Without your sweet kiss/My soul is lost, my friend/Tell me how do I begin again?/My city’s in ruins (2X).../With these hands/I pray for the strength, Lord.../I pray for the faith, Lord.../I pray for your love, Lord/With these hands.../Come on, rise up!” Jane Scarpantoni plays cello.
THE RISING is a marvelous adult rock album. Bruce’s vocals are passionate which makes the songs believable and moving. Hope is a major theme here. Bruce believes that we can find hope in romantic relationships, joining together with our fellow citizens of the earth, and also in a Higher Power. Despair does not win out on this record. The lyrics have a depth to them that a younger artist could not bring. The E Street Band is terrific backing up Bruce. Three of the members are: Clarence Clemons (saxophone, background vocals), Danny Federici (B3 organ, vox continental, arfisa) and Patty Scialfa (vocals). The CD booklet is lovely. I’m rating THE RISING 98% and recommending it to fans of Tom Cochrane and Tom Petty. For more info visit: www.brucespringsteen.net.