Once every six years, September 11 falls on a Friday. Actually, somewhere in the cycle (every 36 years?) a leap year will cause September 11 to leap from a Thursday one year to a Saturday the next year. Unless there is something that I don't understand about how our calendar works, it has always been that way, and I suppose it always will. With 2009 being a year where it does fall on a Friday, today's clips will focus on Bruce Springsteen's response to the events of that day 8 years ago today.
The first clip really wasn't a response, although for most of the world it seemed as though it was. Bruce pulled this rabbit out of his hat in the days following the attack on the World Trade Center on a national television broadcast called 'America: A Tribute to Heroes'. George Clooney organized this benefit which was done in the style of a telethon to raise money for victims and their families. It aired on all four major US networks on September 21, 2001.
I remember my reaction. I couldn't believe that he could craft, arrange and perform such a powerful song a mere 10 days after 9/11. Silly me, it turned out that he had written 'My City Of Ruins' for the 2000 Asbury Park Christmas show benefit to help promote the revitalization of Asbury Park. Knowing Bruce, I'm sure the Asbury Park performance was as inspiring and compelling as could be, yet the new context and sheer magnitude of the events of 9/11, along with a few choice lyric changes and a great performance, elevated this song to a new level.
The new lyrics to watch for towards the end are "I pray for the loss" and "I pray for this world", which would have been a bit over the top if he was singing about Asbury Park (apologies to the good people of Asbury Park....). This performance still blows me away. I love the way he leaves the last vocal hanging in the air.
The story goes that not long after 9/11 Bruce drove to the beach in Asbury Park. A passenger in the car next to Bruce recognized him, rolled down his window and said "We need you now." Fortunately, Bruce interpreted this cryptic calling from a fan to mean "We need to know what you have to say about this. Please write some great songs." rather than "Hey bud, we're having car problems. Could you give us a ride?".
'The Rising' became the title track and soul of Bruce's first new album of original material since 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' in 1995. Clearly inspired, Bruce was in fine form and it seems his creative juices have been flowing ever since. 'The Rising' routinely opened the shows on his tour in support of that album. It felt like a bit of a call to arms, and a lot like "lets blow the roof off this joint!"
If I'm still writing this blog in 2015, I might have to re-run this one. Hope you'll forgive me.