I could probably subtitle this post “It was songs like this that ultimately led me to starting a music blog.” The year was 2006 and Amazon didn’t have an mp3 store, iTunes was still wobbling around, and the idea that virtually every song, ever recorded, would be available for instant streaming on a mobile phone was unheard of. 2006 is when The World Forgot officially began and it was because of songs like My City of Ruin. I would occasionally stumble upon standout tracks (or in this case versions of tracks) that were so moving that I simply had to share them. I was compelled.
For awhile I made do with mix albums, painstakingly burned to CD, and mailed to friends and family. Eventually that evolved into electronic distribution (via email and now ancient sites like yousendit or zshare). Finally I settled upon the name The World Forgot, started a blog through Blogspot (back before the name change to Blogger), and the rest constitutes five years of finding songs, feeling compelled, and sharing them online.
On April 16th, 2006, I posted this live recording of My City of Ruin and to this day it is still the definitive version of the song for me. At that time this version was rare, almost impossible to find. Now, of course, you can simply order the entire album America: A Tribute to Heroes via Amazon (although curiously it still is not available in any downloadable format). Here I choose to present it again. This is the best version, ever recorded, of My City of Ruin and this song remains one of the reasons I have a music blog.
(below is the original text from the April 2006 post)
One of the greatest songs Bruce Springsteen ever wrote has been relegated to a simple prayer for 9/11. What’s really unique is that this song, My City of Ruins, was written before the events of 9/11. In fact Springsteen wrote the song looking back on his beloved city of Asbury Park, NJ. It’s the story of a once great place slowly slipping into decay as the people, and the money they had, migrates to other parts of the world. He speaks of empty churches, evoking images of rust and ruin, images of things long since past. It’s quite a change of pace from his more well known tracks such as Glory Days or Born in the USA.
Regardless of how it’s viewed now, how we’ve misinterpreted this song or labeled it as something it is not, it is ultimately a haunting tale. When The Boss sings mournfully “tell me how do I begin again?” you are forced to wonder if anything this far gone could find a new beginning. You want to have the answer to that question, to be able to give him a solution to all these troubles, but in the end you know that all you can do is clasp your hands and pray with him.
As originally recorded for the album “The Rising” this song takes on almost a sick sense of slick production and radio friendly vibe. The version below is the best one available of this song. Coming from the album “America: A Tribute to Heroes” this version is stripped down, filled out with harmonica and a gospel choir, and contains more emotion in the first fifteen seconds than all other versions of this song combined.