Friday, September 23, 2016

Songs, What Are They Good For?

Songs are good for whoever needs them.
- Bruce Springsteen

World Trade Center Memorial Gardens
Middletown Township, New Jersey

158 residents of Monmouth County, New Jersey were murdered on September 11, 2001.  It is a figure that earned Monmouth County the unwanted distinction of being the New Jersey county that sustained the single-largest loss of life on that terrible Tuesday.  

Whether it is factual or merely an urban legend, a story has made the rounds in these parts for the past fifteen years regarding Monmouth County's resident rock and roller, and his being spurred to action by a plea from a passing motorist, "We need you now!"  

Whatever his motivation, less than one year following the September 11 attacks, Springsteen and the E Street Band released The Rising, which was their first full-band album since 1984's Born in the U.S.A.  As someone who has spent more time listening to that record than I have the limited arithmetic skills to calculate, I remain indebted to him for what he did - in making it.  

In a perfect world, the reason for its creation never would have existed.  However, the world we inhabit is located somewhere far south of "Perfect" (or "The Good Place" for that matter).  We live in a world that, respectfully, needs artists such as Springsteen.  

You have to come to grips with the real horrors that are out there.
And then all people have is hope. 
That's what brings the next day and whatever that day might bring.
You can't be uncritical, but just a hope grounded in the real world
of living, friendship, work, family, Saturday night.
- Bruce Springsteen 

Today the Poet Laureate of Freehold celebrates his sixty-seventh birthday. I smile at the thought of his thirty-sixth birthday, which Jill and I celebrated with him in the cold, snowy environs of Denver's Mile High Stadium.  Us and 55,000 thousand or so other people. A small, intimate gathering.  Glad I was not responsible for bringing the cake.   

It remains true - on this day, as it was on that day, as it was on September 11, 2001, and as it is on every day, that songs are good for whoever needs them.  May we long continue to draw strength from their strength.  



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