The title track of Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball album is about defiance in the face of death. And The Boss returns to the theme on the album’s last track, singing, in the anthem “We Are Alive,” about how the “souls and spirits” of those who have died while pursuing righteous causes continue to live, in some sense.
They “carry the fire and light the spark” even while “our bodies lie alone here in the dark” of a graveyard, Springsteen sings.
The three people he mentions n the song — which includes a musical echo of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” — are someone who died in the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, a Civil Rights protester who died in the 1960s, and a modern immigrant trying to get into the United States.
Prominently featuring Greg Leisz’s banjo and Darrell Leonard’s trumpet, the song is a folk-rock stomper that builds in power. Live on the Wrecking Ball Tour, with the sound filled out by the biggest band Springsteen ever toured with, it was even better (see video below).
Background facts: Springsteen released “We Are Alive” on his 2012 album Wrecking Ball.
According to Brucebase, he performed the song 67 times between 2012 and 2014. On the Wrecking Ball Tour of 2012 and 2013, it was often played late in the main set, or first or second in the encores.
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.
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