“May god bless our fallen brothers and sisters, their families, their friends and their loved ones,” Springsteen said prior to the acoustic performance. “This is ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams.'”
Springsteen’s impromptu, unannounced performance followed a moment of silence at 9:03am EST time for victims of the World Trade Center attack.
“I’ll See You in My Dreams” is the closing track on Springsteen’s 2020 album Letter to You. His and the E Street Band’s 2002 LP The Rising were largely inspired by the events of September 11th, 2001, with the Grammy-winning title track — about a firefighter climbing up one of the Twin Towers following the attack — becoming a post-9/11 anthem.
In 2002, Springsteen wrote about visiting the site of the terror attack and the sacrifice made by first-responders in a first-person account for Rolling Stone.
“I took my kids to Ground Zero in July. I hadn’t gone before. We just walked out onto that public-viewing platform. What’s very moving down there are the photographs and memorials. All the smiling faces. Pictures of people with their families on a sunny afternoon in the yard. People in their uniforms. They’re a reminder of the life that’s gone. I found that sight to be deeply, deeply moving. Just the sense of sacrifice,” Springsteen said.
I think one of the things that shocked people was the size of the sacrifice made on that day. There’s nothing that I think could prepare people — I mean, whatever they’re paying you to be a fireman or a policeman, they’re not paying you that. And that goes to some central point about how people experience their duty, their place in the world, their connection to the people alongside themselves and to complete strangers. If you look at the past twenty years, people might say, ‘Oh, that’s disappeared from America.’ But if you look closely, it’s there every day.”