May 30 • 5M

My Pandemic Playlist #7: We Are Alive

by Bruce Springsteen

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Michael Moore
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For this Memorial Day, I’m sharing a song from my Pandemic Playlist by Bruce Springsteen entitled “We Are Alive.”

It is a song from the grave. The voices of the deceased rise in unison to exclaim, WE ARE ALIVE! A Mexican mother who died crossing the Arizona desert. She is alive! A union organizer is shot and killed by the railroad company in 1877. Though long buried, he’s alive! Four little girls in Birmingham in 1963 — they are alive! They live on in each of us, and they only die when we let them die, when we re-kill their dream of freedom and democracy and the right to organize and to vote. 

But Springsteen is not singing in allegory or distance. He is singing their song from six feet under. Yet he wants us to hear them. 

Most of us have not heard them or this song. 

Let’s take a moment today to listen. And to feel the hope and the joy of the dead. Because they want us to know that neither their life nor their death was in vain. They live on, only if we make that happen. Will we?

This is a day to remember those — all of those — who have passed before us. Yes, we honor those who died in war (thank you Uncle Lornie, March 10, 1945, Luzon, the Philippines, you were my Dad’s best friend).

But now we honor the dead from our new wars in Uvalde, Buffalo, the Pulse Night Club, Emanuel AME Church, the ransacked hallways of the Capitol, the shopping mall in El Paso, the Safeway parking lot in Tucson. So many battlefields, so many dead. The next mass shooting, now just hours away. 

The dead plead with us:

“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!”

Are we listening?

Peace to all you on this day. 

—Michael Moore 

(Photos by Drew Angerer, Win McNamee, Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images )

Lyrics:

"We Are Alive"

There's a cross up yonder on Calvary Hill
There's a slip of blood on a silver knife
There's a graveyard kid down below
Where at night the dead come to life
Well above the stars they crackle and 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 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
I died last year crossing the southern desert
My children left behind in San Pablo
Well they've left our bodies here to rot
Oh please let them know

We are alive
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
Well I awoke last night in the dark and dreamy deep
From my head to my feet my body gone stone cold
There were worms crawling all around me
Fingers scratching at an earth black and six foot low
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


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