The Friday Morning Listen: Bruce Springsteen, "We Are Alive" (2012)

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Much was said in response to the notion that Wrecking Ball was to be Bruce Springsteen’s “angriest” album. People seem to have in their heads a firm notion of what it means to be angry. So when the music surfaced, opinions crystallized around that thread, commonly expressing bemusement at the seeming lack of anger. Were they expecting 45 minutes of “Adam Raised A Cain”?

To me the emotion seemed obvious, a rage against economic injustice. That that rage came from many angles — employing everything from direct stories of despair to ironic near-parodies of criminal intent — did not diffuse the message.

And yet, as the second half of the album gained momentum, it became obvious that Springteen was intent on letting light rays of hope cut through the darkness. “We Are Alive” brings Wrecking Ball to an end with a reminder that ideas, grand statements, and movements can’t be killed even as our physical selves die

It’s only our bodies that betray us in the end

The musical quoting of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” is no cheap trick here, as it was a song that illustrated how love’s power can guide a person, ultimately transforming them. In “We Are Alive,” we have the ghosts of people who stood up for what they felt was right, raising their hands in unison. They loved their fellow man and took a stand, paying the ultimate price. They may be gone but their spirit and their ideals will never die.

We are alive
And though our bodies lie alone here in the dark
Our spirits rise to carry the fire and light the spark
To stand shoulder-to-shoulder and heart-to-heart

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski
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