Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bruce Springsteen



One of the greatest songs Bruce Springsteen ever wrote has been relegated to a simple prayer for 9/11. What's really unique is that this song, My City of Ruins, was written before the events of 9/11. In fact Springsteen wrote the song looking back on his beloved city of Asbury Park, NJ. It's the story of a once great place slowly slipping into decay as the people, and the money they had, migrates to other parts of the world. He speaks of empty churches, evoking images of rust and ruin, images of things long since past. It's quite a change of pace from his more well known tracks such as Glory Days or Born in the USA.

Regardless of how it's viewed now, how we've misinterpreted this song or labeled it as something it is not, it is ultimately a haunting tale. When The Boss sings mournfully "tell me how do I begin again?" you are forced to wonder if anything this far gone could find a new beginning. You want to have the answer to that question, to be able to give him a solution to all these troubles, but in the end you know that all you can do is clasp your hands and pray with him.

As originally recorded for the album "The Rising" this song takes on almost a sick sense of slick production and radio friendly vibe. The version below is the best one available of this song. Coming from the album "America: A Tribute to Heroes" this version is stripped down, filled out with harmonica and a gospel choir, and contains more emotion in the first fifteen seconds than all other versions of this song combined.

mp3 : Bruce Springsteen - My City of Ruins

lyrics :

there's a blood red circle
on the cold dark ground
and the rain is falling down
the church door's thrown open
i can hear the organ's song
but the congregation's gone
my city of ruins
my city of ruins

now the sweet bells of mercy
drift through the evening trees
young men on the corner
like scattered leaves
the boarded up windows, the empty streets
and my brother's down on his knees
my city of ruins
my city of ruins

come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up

now's 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
my city's in ruins

now with these hands
with these hands
with these hands
with these hands
i pray lord
with these hands
with these hands
i pray for the strength, lord
with these hands
with these hands
i pray for the faith, lord
with these hands
with these hands
we pray for your love, lord
with these hands
with these hands
we pray for the lost, lord
with these hands
with these hands
we pray for this world, lord
with these hands
with these hands
we pray for the strength, lord
with these hands
with these hands
we pray for the strength, lord
with these hands
come on
with these hands
come on

come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!
come on, rise up!

come on, rise up
come on, rise up
come on, rise up



For a good look at the decay of favored Eastern Seaboard spots make sure you check out the movie City by the Sea starring Robert De Niro.

2 comments:

Jon said...

I can't believe you didn't note that we used to often offer quite the "C'mon, riiise UP!" reprise of this track in the Ball State lunchroom. Those were the days, dude.

Thanks for this download. I didn't have this version of the song, and it's mos' def' the best.

Steve said...

Billy - I need to know where you got this version of Springsteen's song. I watched his storytellers on VH1 over spring break, and this sounds like it came from that live recording. Excellent choice.