“My City Of Ruins” was written before the terrorist attacks on Washington D.C. And New York City on September 11, 2001, and is not about either city but rather about Asbury Park, New Jersey. That doesn't matter anymore. “My City of Ruins” became tied to the terrible, tragic, violent events of that day 10 days later when Bruce performed it at a telethon devoted to the families of those lost. He called it a prayer for our fallen brothers and sisters.
I've always heard this song in the context of this day and I imagine it always will but over time it's come to mean something even more vast. It does feel like a prayer. It feels like a hymn that should be sung in every church on the planet. Some of you of the non-religious or spiritual type may be heading for the exits right now, and that's okay but it's unnecessary. “My City of Ruins” is a hymn and a prayer but there is no proselytizing. This is a song of mourning an unspecified loss and hope for a renewal. It was the perfect song for the occasion eight years ago and yet it was created when that kind of horror was only real on movie screens.
It's also interesting the way something that feels so universal and vast in my ears can sound very different to others. Fellow Blogcritic Mat Brewster wrote about how this song spoke to him. I'm still astonished by his willingness to be so honest about where this song found him but it's an incredible story. For Mat, this song isn't about a nation's pain or the state of global affairs or the nature of God. It's personal and solitary, but no less profound.
“My City of Ruins” is a powerful song that never imagined how it might one day be used, understood or remembered. I suppose it's the same with September 11. For thousands of years, it was just a day on the calendar. Not anymore. Not ever again. Good things will happen to people when this day arrives on future calendars. Children will be born and the sick will be healed by loving doctors and miracles. Friends will be made. Good things will happen on this day in the future but it will always be a day that has a past, a past none of us will ever forget.