In the days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bruce Springsteen, who had watched the smoking devastation of lower Manhattan from a point across the river in New Jersey, and who had lost friends as the World Trade Center towers crumbled, was in Rumson, when a passing driver yelled at him: “Bruce, we need you now!” Knowing exactly what the man meant, Mr. Springsteen began putting together the album that would be called The Rising, a meditation on the emotions generated by the events and tragedies of that day. Though written and recorded for the album, “Down in the Hole” did not appear on The Rising; Mr. Springsteen released it as part his 2014 album, High Hopes. “This heartbreaking song about digging for a body of a loved one in the wreckage of a disaster,” the website Songfacts reports, “opens with Springsteen’s second wife Patti Scialfa’s distinctive harmonies and features background vocals from the three children they had together, Evan (born July 25, 1990), Jessica (born December 30, 1991) and Sam Springsteen (born January 5, 1994).” It is worth noting that Sam became a member of the Colts Neck, New Jersey Fire Department in 2019.

Sun comes every morning but it ain’t no friend
I get dressed and I go back again
The rain it keeps on falling on twisted bones and dirt
I’m buried to my heart here in this hurt
Fire keeps on burning, you’re waiting in the cold
Down in the hole

Dark and bloody autumn pierces my heart
The memory of your kiss tears me apart
The sky above is turning, the world below’s gone gray
I thought that I could turn and walk away
But the fire keeps on burning, and I’m working in the cold
Down in the hole

Radio’s crackling with the headlines, wind in the phone lines
The sun upon your shoulder, empty city skylines
The day rips apart, a dark and bloody arrow pierced my heart

I got nothing but hard blue sky and sunshine, the things you left behind
I wake to find my city’s gone to black
The days just keep on falling, your voice it keeps on calling
I’m gonna dig right here until I get you back
Fires keep on burning, I’m here with you in the cold
Down in the hole

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The featured image is “A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center.” It is in the public domain and appears here courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. It has been brightened for clarity.

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