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Springsteen wrote this in response to the September 11 attacks on America. The entire album deals with it in some way, often from the point of view of the victims.
Many of the songs that came out soon after September 11, 2001 in the US were calls for revenge and dripped with patriotism (Charlie Daniels' "This Ain't No Rag, It's A Flag), but this is a much more introspective look at the events, as Springsteen attempts to reflect the many different emotions caused by the tragedy. In addition to anger, many Americans felt grief, frustration, and bewilderment in their efforts to deal with it.
This was the first album of original material by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band since 1984, when they released Born In The U.S.A.
This won Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, while the album won for Best Rock Album. All of the awards were given away before the show, but Springsteen got plenty of time on the telecast. He and The E Street Band performed this during the show, and near the end of the show, Bruce and Little Steven were part of a tribute to Joe Strummer, playing The Clash classic "London Calling" along with Dave Grohl and Elvis Costello. Strummer died of a heart attack in 2002.
Norah Jones beat this for the Song Of The Year Grammy when she won for "Don't Know Why." She won 5 awards that year.
This anthemic song is a live favorite, and Springsteen played it on January 18, 2009 at a concert in Washington, DC to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America. Springsteen supported Obama during the campaign. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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