Springsteen's The Rising: Does it deserve to be 9/11's soundtrack?
The Boss' musical response to the attacks continues to inspire many fans — even if some critics blast the album as nothing but a bombastic collection of cliches
A few days after 9/11, as Bruce Springsteen was pulling out of a parking lot, an unidentified fan drove by and shouted, "We need you!" Legend has it that the moment inspired The Boss to create and release 2002's The Rising, an album reflecting on the attacks. His first studio effort in seven years, and his first collaboration with the E Street Band in nearly two decades, it was both a commercial and critical triumph, debuting at number one on the Billboard charts and winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album. Its influence continued to grow: Teachers now use The Rising to teach their young students about 9/11; radio listeners demand it be played on the attacks' anniversary; and critics have hailed it as "rock 'n' roll's most significant response to 9/11." A decade after the attacks, does The Rising still deserve its reputation?
This album remains uniquely moving: The Rising "stands apart for the scope of its ambition, and its typically Springsteenian acceptance of a job that needed to be done," says Dan DeLuca at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Sure, there are a couple unnecessary songs. But it shows the Boss returning to form with a "renewed sense of purpose" after "floundering for the previous decade," creating the beautiful, inspired album that America needed. "Springsteen's The Rising is the soaring musical statement"
Yeah. The Boss truly healed us: With The Rising, "Springsteen and his E Street Band opened a kind of contemplative space, through music and poetry, for the possibility of something unexpected in the wake of evil: A moment for self-examination, healing and grace," says Christopher Pramuk at America Magazine. "The printed word cannot do justice" to the album's best track, "My City of Ruins" — which "voices that deep, universal cry in the human spirit that refuses to let death or despair have the final word." "A dream of life"
C'mon. This album is overrated: I love The Boss, "but The Rising is a failure," says John Cook at Gawker. It's "overwrought, grandiose, bombastic." That works for Springsteen when his music mythologizes working-class struggles in New Jersey. But the "epically large and unspeakably horrid" events of 9/11 didn't need to be mythologized and turned into "anthemic stadium-chants" packed with a "mawkish assortment of cliches." The best music to come out of 9/11 is subtler, focusing on the small tragic moments and portraying "that day as it was lived, as opposed to how it was televised." "Against The Rising"