When The Rising first came out, the meaning of the songs of pure loss — Empty Sky and You’re Missing in particular — could only come out of the context of the events of 9/11. Though you might be able to take the story of You’re Missing and apply it to say, a broken marriage or any sudden death, I’d never thought of it that way.
But one of the great things about songwriting is that the listener can bring in their own experiences, taking meaning as they see fit.
Though my dad passed away slightly over five years ago, I’d never gotten around to unpacking his last suitcase…the one he’d taken into the nursing home. It’s been sitting in a closet all of this time. I just couldn’t do it. Recently we’ve been getting our house ready to rent out. It was time to deal with this thing.
Coffee cups on the counter, jackets on the chair
Papers on the doorstep, you’re not there
Dad read the newspaper every morning. So did I. Every night during those last six months, I came home from work and then drove to the home for a visit, bringing him that morning’s Boston Globe.
Pictures on the nightstand, TV’s on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
The most interesting items in that little suitcase were the photos. Just two: one of my grandmother and one of me and my dog (truthfully, his dog too). No pictures of mom, who had passed on just three months before dad took ill. I don’t remember dad refusing photos of mom, though maybe he didn’t need the reminder. Two of the toughest moments for me in this time period: when he started referring to our house as your house — he knew he wasn’t coming back; and when he took off his wedding ring and handed it to me. I asked him if he was sure…”Yes.”
So what I take from “You’re Missing” has necessarily changed over time. Not Bruce’s original intent, but I don’t thing he’d mind.
Next up: The Rising
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