Tracks of the Decade: “My City of Ruins” by Bruce Springsteen

cp-springsteen2“My City of Ruins”
by Bruce Springsteen

Many great songs, through whatever transcendent quality they possess, remain in the collective consciousness for years and are thus finally afforded the status of “classic” through sheer timelessness. “My City of Ruins”, on the other hand, is an undeniable classic forever stuck in one moment, time-bound to the dark days immediately following 9/11. Although the Boss wrote the track as a tribute to Asbury Park, NJ, it was adapted into a post-trauma canticle of resilience for the people of New York City. To be sure, it IS a great song, but for an evening in 2001 it became America’s song, as Springsteen delivered it during the AMERICA: A TRIBUTE TO HEROES telethon. Featuring a revivalistic progression for the ages, the song stands as a return to the grand symbolic gesture that Springsteen so ably employed during his early artistic achievements. (In a way, it also marks the artistic revival of his career after a bleak 15 year run.) “My City of Ruins” registers with all the spiritual power and the glory of “The Star Spangled Banner”, but crosses from the realm of mere patriotism into anthemic humanism. If there ever was such a thing as a rock and roll hymn, “My City of Ruins” resurrected the form, mustering all the vigor, hope, and consolence of “Hey Jude.” When The Boss calls you to “Rise up!”, you feel like you might reach the cathedral rafters. Seeming to possess the ability to bind up wounds and heal the broken-hearted, “My City of Ruins” is a rare achievement in rock and roll, the sonic marker for an historical sea change. One of The Boss’ greatest achievements.

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