Wrecking ball lyrics: We are alive

At the first listen We are alive seemed to be a rather weird song. Quite gross, to be honest. (If you don’t agree, just read the last verse.) Beautiful lines about tragedy and death set to a jolly little tune which makes you want to dance. Although Bruce  is a genius at setting heartbreaking lyrics to catchy tunes and driving rhythms, this song seems to go too far in that respect.

But then you listen. And you listen again. And the joy and the hope become clearer every time. Gradually you realize this is not really a song about death. It is about life, about people who stay with us to some extent, although we have buried them. People can leave an enduring heritage. Their ideals can live on, their work can live on.

Of course this has gained profound meaning after Clarence left us. And as the tour goes on, we hear from venue after venue how Bruce acknowledges the Big Man’s ongoing presence, how the crowds react to his shout of Are we missing somebody? When we are here, and you are here, they are here! And when Jake steps forward, we hear the Big Man blowing his horn once again.

And we think about those who have left us, but who still stay behind. If we let them.

The thing is, we do not always let them. We tend to forget them after some time. And by forgetting, we really kill them.

No, I do not advocate clinging to our loved ones who are not with us anymore. Life goes on, if you hold on to the past, you stay behind. We must grief and we must move on.

But forget? Never.

Favourite lines:

And though our bodies lie alone here in the dark
Our spirits rise to carry the fire and light the spark
To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart

Full lyrics:

There’s a cross up yonder up on Calvary Hill
There’s a slip of blood on a silver knife
There’s a graveyard kid down below
Where at night did come to life
And above the stars, they crackle in fire
A dead man’s moon throws seven rings
Well, we put our ears to the cold grave stones
This is the song they’d sing
We are alive
And though our bodies lie alone here in the dark
Our spirits rise to carry the fire and light the spark
To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart

A voice cried out, I was killed in Maryland in 1877
When the railroad workers made their stand
Well, I was killed in 1963 one Sunday morning in Birmingham
Well, I died last year crossing the southern desert
My children left behind in San Pablo
Well they left our bodies here to rot
Oh please let them know
We are alive
Oh, and though we lie alone here in the dark
Our souls will rise to carry the fire and light the spark
To fight shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart

Let your mind rest easy, sleep well my friend
It’s only our bodies that betray us in the end

I awoke last night in a dark and dreamy deep
From my head to my feet, my body had gone stone cold
There were worms crawling all around me
Fingers scratching at an earth black and six foot low
And alone in the blackness of my grave
Alone I’d been left to die
Then I heard voices calling all around me
The earth rose above me, my eyes filled with sky
We are alive
And though our bodies lie alone here in the dark
Our souls and spirits rise
To carry the fire and light the spark
To fight shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart
To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart
We are alive

One thought on “Wrecking ball lyrics: We are alive

  1. Actually, I think this song is the most radical protest song Bruce has ever written. This is not about anybody’s loved ones. Look up what happened in Maryland in 1877 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Railroad_Strike_of_1877) – there was a massive rail workers strike that was quashed by local and state militias and the 100’s of workers were killed. In Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, there was a riot (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_riot_of_1963), where the police and the KKK placed bombs in a black church. The one who “died crossing the southern desert” is obviously an illegal immigrant crossing the border in Mexico.

    What Bruce is saying here is that we must not forget those who died fighting the good fight, and that in the struggle (“Stand shoulder to shoulder” – that’s how people march) is alive.

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