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When I began writing on my website I often talked about, perhaps even gushed over, Louie Cruz Beltran. I truly appreciate his words and music. I am not gifted with the words to express how much I appreciate his creations and what they mean to me. They bring me joy and I've needed that over the past year. It's even harder for me to wrap words around what two others, who preceded Louie by more than twenty years, have meant to me.

One of those is Bruce Springsteen. His lyrics are the kind of poetry which reachs me in places I cannot express, only feel. Over the twenty-five years I've been listening to his music and reading his lyrics, they've touched me in different ways, at different times, depending upon what was happening in my life. I have every CD, I've re-typed the lyrics to most of the songs for my own pleasure. When I read that he and the E Street band were getting together to produce another CD, I was excited, until I understood it was born within the ashes of September 11, 2001.

I haven't discussed that day on my website. The section of the website where I chatter was created long after that day. But it is because of that day I created it and started writing there. I lost someone dear to me that day. I still have a problem discussing it. The pain is still too deep and raw, the loss too great. I've avoided, to the best of my ability, all discussions of that day. I just can't deal with it. When I had heard that the two men, who's music has been a large part of my life since I was twelve years old, would be performing at the televised benefit days after the September 11 terrorist attack, I knew I couldn't watch it. Springsteen, and Billy Joel, both reach me, deep within, with the power of their voices, words and music. Watching it would have undone me. In retrospect, perhaps that would have been best. It would have forced the grief to the surface sooner. But at that time, I just couldn't deal with it, so I didn't watch.

I couldn't decide whether or not to buy Springsteen's latest CD. As much as I wanted to listen to it, I felt it would be too difficult if it was about that devastating day. Often compared to Dylan, Springsteen's lyrics and music trace our current history with a great deal of depth and beauty and expression. His gift of words and music has never ceased to amaze and move me. I was worried that he would, as he has so often, provoke my deepest emotions. Emotions I've been avoiding for nearly a year. I was afraid he would, yet again, take me to places I just didn't want to go. The one I've lost is also deeply tied to the lyrics and music of Springsteen. I felt that encountering those regions of my soul without him would be too difficult to do alone.

In the end, my desire to hear Springsteen and the band outweighed my concerns enough to purchase the CD at Amazon. When the package arrived last week, I didn't open it. It sat on the cedar chest in the hallway where I had dropped it after the UPS man delivered it. The cats knocked it off a couple of times and I would just pick it up and put it back, unopened. I finally opened it Saturday night. I read the lyrics and felt the tears begin well.

Lonesome Day
Into The Fire
Waitin' On A Sunny Day
Nothing Man
Countin' On A Miracle
Empty Sky
Worlds Apart
Lets Be Frinds (Skin to Skin)
Further On (Up the road)
The Fuse
Mary's Place
You're Missing
The Rising
Paradise
My City of Ruins

I should have had more faith. This CD is beautiful, and even upbeat in places, perhaps the best of all his work to date. But then, I think that everytime he releases a new CD. It has opened wounds, especially the songs You're Missing and Paradise, but those wounds are also being washed clean, after nearly a year of festering. Clemons on sax, Springsteen's voice and words and music. A gift of poetry, sound and thought; a benediction. There's love, joy and hope here. It's a wonderful CD by one of my three favorite contemporary composers and musicians. If you're considering buying it, I hope you do so. I don't think, if you've ever been a fan of Springsteen, you'll regret it.

I'm grateful to Springsteen for filling my life for the past twenty-five years with poetry and music, laughter and tears; for being the soundtrack to so many of my memories. As it has in the past, his music has released something within my soul. I was afraid I would only encounter painful memories in listening to the latest compilation. Instead, I found release and joy.

The Rising - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Can't see nothing in front of me
Can't see nothing comin' up behind
Makin' way through this darkness
Can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I've gone
How far I've gone and how far I've climbed
On my back's a sixty pound stone
On the shoulder half mile outta line

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

Left the house this mornin'
Bells were ringin' through the air
I was wearin' the cross of my calling
Home was a fire, I come rollin' down hill

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

LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLa...

The spirits of love stand behind me
Faces gone, black eyes burnin' bright
May the precious blood find me
Lord as I stand before you, I realize-

LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLa...

I seen Mary at the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
She's holdin' pictures of our children
Dancin' in the sky, filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
The dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin' on the end of my line

Sky of blackness and sorrow
Sky of love, sky of tears
Sky of glory and sadness
Sky of mercy, sky of fear
Sky of memory and shadow
Your burden fills my arms tonight
Sky of lonely and emptiness
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life

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

LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLa...

What can I possibly say that could ever hope to compare to Laura Elizabeth's thoughts regarding The Rising? I'm no essayist, if that's even a word, and you all know it. But here are a few words anyway.

I first heard the song The Rising purely by chance on a VH1 news item about Bruce Springsteen's reunion with The E Street Band to work on the album. Needless to say, my father and I were overjoyed with the idea that the music that had been one of the strong points of The Boss's work for so long would be back at full strength once again. I managed to hear a piece of the album's title track during the special, but not enough to get a full feel of the song.

Until my father decided to create a compilation CD on our computer of songs that he felt appropriate as the 1st anniversery of September 11th, 2001 approached. Looking through the piles of songs he had downloaded, I felt something was missing. I immediately picked up a copy of The Rising's title track and snuck it into the folder my father had created to store the music he was considering to place on the CD.

Then, by chance, I popped the song into Winamp and hit play...and immediately felt something strike a chord. 9/11 and the aftermath that swept across the country hadn't particularly had a deep effect on me, but this...oh this piece of vocal art shot right through me. It soared above all the other songs that I'd heard that were inspired by the terrorist attacks, overcoming a lot of divisions and borders to send a message ringing out that I feel anyone, regardless of who they are and what they think, can relate to and empathize with: as difficult as it seems right now, as hard as it might seem to move on, we can if we work together for and with each other.

Enough of my ranting. If you ever have the opportunity, listen to the album, or at the very least, this song. I can pretty much guarantee you'll walk away from it afterwards with your soul just a little lighter than before.

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