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The most un-Springsteenish track on Wrecking Ball opens with a sample of archivist Alan Lomax's 1942 field recording of "I'm A Soldier in the Army of the Lord" by the Church of God in Christ Congregation before slowly building into a solemn gospel ballad. It features gospel singer Michelle Moore who not only provides backing vocals on this song, but also contributes a 16 bar rap, which Springsteen wrote himself.
The song reflects the influence of co-producer Rob Aniello, who incorporated various electronic drums and loops into the production. Springsteen noted at the unveiling of Wrecking Ball in Paris that during the recording process he was happy to try something different. "I could go anywhere, do anything, use anything. It was very wide open," he said.
The most overtly gospel influenced song on Wrecking Ball, the lyrics evoke biblical language, as Springsteen sings over a church organ and the Victorious Gospel Choir, of whom Michelle Moore is a member: "Rise up, shepherd, rise up/Your flock has roamed far from the hill". The title itself alludes to Jesus' parable in Matthew chapter 13 vs. 5 & 20-21 in which he talks of seed falling on rocky ground. Christ is referring to people who initially receive his message (the seed) enthusiastically, but because it fell on rocky ground, they have no roots and they fall away when times get hard.
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