I had a dream about Bruce Springsteen and he told me what to write.

You’re thinking, “Again? Come on, Malchus, all you ever write about is Springsteen. And Journey. All you write about are Journey and Springsteen. Can’t you come up with any other artists?” Actually, the last time Bruce made an appearance in the basement was a year ago, as my family was in the midst of our annual CF Great Strides Fundraiser. Since then, the Boss has been hanging out on his ranch in Jersey.

Carpet cleaning sent us out of the house on Saturday. Early that morning, Sophie, Jacob and I drove across town for breakfast at one of the local IHOP’s. Jake brought along his iPod and acted as DJ for our trek through Santa Clarita. After playing his current favorites, he asked what I wanted to hear.

“Surprise me,” I replied, trying to focus on the road and dreaming of coffee.

His iPod clicked while he searched for something. Meanwhile, I began thinking about what I should write about for this week’s basement song column. I skipped last week due to internal strife that gnawed at my soul. While I came up with a page and a half, I soon realized that the content was too depressing and sad, even for me. The basement door closed and I went into the weekend hoping for inspiration. My ambition was to tie the week’s theme into this year’s Great Strides. On cue, Jacob began playing “The Rising.”

This song. This song, my friends. It’s one of the key anthems of our family. Back in 2002, as we struggled to comprehend that Jacob was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, we prayed for guidance. How do you grasp the news that your son has a life threatening illness when he is just ten weeks old or ten months old? Eight years later and it’s still difficult to comprehend. But we had Bruce Springsteen, the Boss, America’s finest, the consummate rock star. We had Bruce, singing about rising souls looking down, looking back. The music of “The Rising” filled our home and hearts with hope; the lyrics filled our eyes with tears. This song, my friends. This song saved me many, many times.

No matter how many times I hear it, I always get choked up when Springsteen sings:

I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There’s holy pictures of our children
Dancin’ in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin’ on the end of the line

I have so many beautiful memories of Jacob galloping around the house, dressed like the red Wiggle, his Hawaiian ukulele gripped by the neck, his left hand strumming along to the music, while he sang at the top of his lungs.

“Li, li, lilililili, li!”

And Sophie, imitating Soozie Tyrell, with one drumstick under her chin and the other gliding over the first like a bow to a violin. Over ad over we would play that song, and it never got old.

“Li, li, lilililili, li!”

When I heard the first chords of “The Rising” on Saturday morning, I knew right away that it should be my next basement song write up. As we completed our drive to IHOP, Sophie, Jacob and I al sang along with the song, “Li, li, lilililili, li!” Arriving at the restaurant, I felt lighter; relaxed; ready to go chow down some blueberry pancakes, drink some coffee and treasure the time being spent with my children.

Come Sunday, though, I wondered, “Should I really write about this song? This song?” I’ve already written about the album, The Rising, how every performance from that tour was a spiritual revival. Should I go there again? Does anyone care?

This song.

That night I had a dream about Bruce Springsteen.

In the dream, Bruce called me on the telephone to talk about the basement songs. I asked what I should write about this week. “Why not ‘The Rising?'” he suggested. We then proceeded to argue about the Yankees and discuss the weather.

I awoke, confused. It was one of those dreams that feel so real you can still taste the Cheetohs you were eating while having the phone conversation. The dream confirmed what I should write about.

This song.

“The Rising” is at the top of my favorite songs of all time, let along my favorite Springsteen tunes. Before “The Rising,” I would have named “Book of Dreams,” or “Brilliant Disguise,” or “Born to Run” my favorite Bruce song. Each of those beauties are tied to specific people or moments in my life integral to my growth as an adult. “The Rising” is my life now and in the future; “The Rising” is my family. Whether it’s the studio version or the sublime acoustic live version, “The Rising” instantly creates the joy and the humanity and the optimism and the love that I need… that I want… to help me be a better father, a better husband and a better man.

This song, my friends. This song. “The Rising.”

I had a dream about Bruce Springsteen and he told me what to write.