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“The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.”
- Bruce Springsteen -

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

#57 Empty Sky by Bruce Springsteen

As a track off of The Rising CD, the easiest image to call to mind, especially for us Americans, is that of the literal empty New York skyline after a tragic day in the history of the U.S., 9/11. Springsteen’s ability to see past boundaries and through to the connection between all of us humans is never more evident than in this song. The emotions of loss manifested through sadness and rage immediately take us inward to our own feelings about what happened that day.

Just when the sense of loss has reached its peak through the connection of blood, one of our own is gone, a piece of us has died, Springsteen flies us across the world to the “plains of Jordan”, where the same grief lives inside someone’s mother, wife, brother, or friend, where the word “terrorist” does not define the loved one they lost.

That same sense of emptiness defies any definition of good and evil. It connects the hearts of strangers from a “strange” land whose seemingly incomprehensible way of seeing the world and whose sense of duty does not really differ from our own. Their pain and their sacrifice is no less than ours. The same sense of ambivalence about honor and duty, the same sadness and anger over a life lost, the same questions about life and death, carve out an “empty sky” for all of our human family across the world.

For Complete Lyrics Visit:


  1. For me, the lyrics are made all the more haunting because of the harmonica. I find that the songs that touch me the most have harmonica, as if that sound somehow touches sadder emotions.

  2. I agree. I love the harmonica and Bruce definitely uses it to create a very mournful it's coming from deep inside.

  3. 2 things stood out to me in this song:

    I want a kiss from your lips
    I want an eye for an eye...

    These lines side by side, to me, demonstrate how our grief and loss go hand in hand with our need for justice or perhaps revenge. We are driven by anger to desperately replace the empty space of our loss, with a sense of "they got theirs." Even though there may be some sense of satisfaction in making someone pay for what we lost, it is only our pain and emptiness returns...every day we wake up to that empty sky.

    The lines “On the plains of Jordan, I cut my bow from the wood, Of this tree of evil, Of this tree of good…” that makes me think about how the US claimed their attack on the middle east was for “justice” after the events of 9/11, giving Americans a false sense of hope, that their grief will somehow be justified by making others suffer. People wanted someone to pay, even though the direct people responsible for those events perished along with the victims. Depending on which side of the battle you’re on, the cause can either be evil or good… which in reality it is neither. It is just continued needless bloodshed.

  4. Lenore,
    Very insightful...those lines "tree of evil/tree of good" too me make me think how we think our causes are just and worth shedding innocent lives for and how so do others who fight for a cause. A soldier that is part of an "extremist" muslim group is not pure evil and a soldier fighting for the US of A is not purely good - neither are their causes - there is no purity in war....