Though written sometime prior to 2001 about the dilapidated condition of Asbury Park, New Jersey, “My City of Ruins” became associated with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 when Mr. Springsteen performed the song live on television on September 21, 2001 for the “America: A Tribute to Heroes” fundraiser for families of the victims, particularly those of deceased New York City firefighters and police officers. The song was released the following year on Mr. Springsteen’s 9/11-themed album, The Rising. In 2020, the song seems appropriate also to the coronavirus pandemic and the response to it, which have ravaged New York City.

Asbury Park was a famous boardwalk town on the Jersey Shore where Mr. Springsteen had often played, especially in the early years of his career in the 1960s and 1970s. Interestingly, it began experiencing a renaissance in 2002, the same year in which “My City of Ruins” was officially released.

There’s a blood red circle on the cold dark ground
And the rain is falling down
The church door’s thrown open, I can hear the organ’s song
But the congregation’s gone
My city of ruins
My city of ruins

Now the sweet bells of mercy drift through the evening trees
Young men on the corner like scattered leaves
The boarded up windows, the empty streets
While my brother’s down on his knees
My city of ruins
My city of ruins

Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up

Now there’s tears on the pillow, darling, where we slept
And you took my heart when you left
Without your sweet kiss my soul is lost, my friend
Tell me how do I begin again
My city’s in ruins
My city’s in ruins

Now with these hands, with these hands
With these hands, with these hands
I pray, Lord (with these hands, with these hands)
I pray for the strength, Lord (with these hands, with these hands)
I pray for the faith, Lord (with these hands, with these hands)
I pray for your love, Lord (with these hands, with these hands)
I pray for the strength, Lord (with these hands, with these hands)
I pray for your love, Lord (with these hands, with these hands)
I pray for the faith, Lord (with these hands), alright (with these hands)
I pray for the strength, Lord (with these hands), come on (with these hands), come on
Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up, come on rise up
Come on rise up

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics as we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

We hope you will join us in The Imaginative Conservative community. The Imaginative Conservative is an online journal for those who seek the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, Richard Weaver, M.E. Bradford, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson, Paul Elmer More, and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism. Some conservatives may look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.” The Imaginative Conservative offers to our families, our communities, and the Republic, a conservatism of hope, grace, charity, gratitude, and prayer.

The featured image, uploaded by Bebo2good1, is “Closed retailers along Williamsbridge Road in Morris Park, The Bronx during the COVID-19 pandemic.” It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

All comments are moderated and must be civil, concise, and constructive to the conversation. Comments that are critical of an essay may be approved, but comments containing ad hominem criticism of the author will not be published. Also, comments containing web links or block quotations are unlikely to be approved. Keep in mind that essays represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Imaginative Conservative or its editor or publisher.

Leave a Comment
Print Friendly, PDF & Email