Bruce Springsteen has shown little interest in world music throughout his career, but made an exception on “Worlds Apart,” from his album, The Rising. To underscore the tale of two lovers, from different cultures, trying to make their relationship work in a world that seems to be tearing them apart, Springsteen uses both The E Street Band and Pakistani singer Asif Ali Khan and his qawwali group. Springsteen also mentions “Allah’s blessed rain” in one line.
“I was trying to look outside the United States and move the boundaries of the record in some fashion,” Springsteen told Uncut magazine.
Qawwali is a form of Islamic devotional music, as soulful and uplifting as gospel; “Worlds Apart” is ultimately, like much of The Rising, both wrenching and hopeful.
The setting of the song may be a war zone; that would explain the disturbing line, “lay my tongue upon your scars.” Also, the mentions of “the dead” (in “May the living let us in before the dead tear us apart”) and “blood” (in “We’ll let blood build a bridge over mountains”).
In any event, it’s a powerful song — a prayer, of sorts, asking that love will prevail over hate.
“We’ve got this moment now to live, then it’s all just dust and dark,” Springsteen sings. “Let love give what it gives.”
Background facts: “Worlds Apart” is from Bruce Springsteen’s 2002 album, The Rising. According to Brucebase, it was performed in concert more than 100 times in 2002 and 2003.
On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence, though, depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of $10, or any other amount, to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJ Arts Daily to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.