Archives for September 2021

Finding New Solace in Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Rising’ 20 years after 9/11

In the late afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, Bruce Springsteen headed out to a coastal bridge near his home in New Jersey, where, on a clear day in the past, he could see the vertical lines of the Twin Towers. On this cataclysmic day, following the atrocities that appeared on his television screen that morning, he saw only “torrents of smoke lifted from the end of Manhattan Island,” as he recalled in his 2016 memoir Born to Run.

After sitting alone with his restless thoughts on a beach below the foot of the bridge, Springsteen started back to the parking lot. At that moment, a man drove by, with his window open, and yelled out — “Bruce, we need you.”

The week after, Springsteen headlined a national telethon to raise money for the grieving families who lost loved ones when the towers fell on 9/11, and was inspired to begin recording his 12th studio album, “The Rising.” With this 9/11-themed album, released in July 2002, the Boss was back: He was once again at the top of the charts, the band was rocking like it hadn’t since the 1980s, and the music was mournful and uplifting at the same time. The driver who called upon Springsteen at the beach, and seemingly every other fan, got the Bruce they needed.

I have to confess that I wasn’t looking for this Bruce, during the long aftershocks of 9/11.

Read my confession and why I believe we still need Bruce, 20 years later. See the full article.

What’s on Your Pandemic Playlist?

If you happened to be inside a hospital early in the pandemic, you might have heard these words floating through the corridors — “The smiles returning to the faces. Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here.” They’re lyrics from “Here Comes the Sun,” George Harrison’s 1969 classic about resurrection from the dead of winter. Across the country, hospitals played the Beatles’ song over paging systems as a celebratory ritual when discharging a patient on the mend from the coronavirus. Many still do.

Music has been therapeutic for people outside hospitals, too, and more than a few of the prescribed tunes were written and sung by the “quiet Beatle,” also known as the spiritual one. Harrison, who died of lung cancer in 2001, continues to pop up on pandemic playlists during a dark winter that indeed “seems like years.” Among his most turned-to works are not only “Here Comes the Sun” but also other creations, including multiple tracks from his signature solo album, “All Things Must Pass.”

See the article about George Harrison’s coronavirus comeback, in NCR … 

Prince’s ‘Welcome 2 America’ Puts Faith and Politics Front and Center

A little over five years ago, the funk-rock icon Prince died, at the age of 57, from an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Much of the music he had been putting out was uneventful, though tickets to his concerts were prized (especially after an unforgettable 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, where he serendipitously performed “Purple Rain” amid a relentless downpour). His studio albums had been uneven for quite some time — which makes the latest posthumous release from Prince’s estate all the more stunning.

“Welcome 2 America,” released on July 30, is the first posthumous album by Prince made up entirely of unreleased material. The 12-song set was retrieved from the singer’s prodigious (and literal) vault of never-released music. Recorded in 2010, the album delivers some of Prince’s catchiest music in decades, while exploring big questions. It is an invigorating fusion of multiple genres, but also of two realms that Prince was not particularly known for mixing — faith and politics.

Read my review of “Welcome 2 America,” and why this album, though a decade old, is right on time.