Bruce Springsteen / Simon Schama / The Iliad (new episode)

Bruce Springsteen / Simon Schama / The Iliad Human Voices Wake Us

Tonight’s episode looks in on history, creativity, and mourning from three different angles:

In the first part, we hear scattered remarks from Bruce Springsteen over the years, about his low-fi and haunting 1982 album, Nebraska. It is remarkable how the album was made by Springsteen, alone in his bedroom, with a cheap recorder. For someone who bridges and so seamlessly combines music of the fifties, sixties and seventies, Nebraska sounds nearly timeless.

In the second part, I read a small section from Simon Schama’s 1995 book, Landscape and Memory. Here, he talks about not just his own Jewish ancestry, who hailed from the woods and forests of Ruthenia (on the border between today’s Poland and Lithuania), but also about the fate of one Polish village’s Jewish population, during and following World War Two.

In the third part, I read from book 24 of Homer’s Iliad, translated by Richmond Lattimore. In one of the most moving scenes anywhere in Homer’s epics, Priam, the king of Troy, pays a visit to Achilles, the greatest warrior on the Greek side. Achilles has only recently killed Priam’s son, Hector, in battle, and the old man comes to Achilles for beg for his son’s body back, so that he can be given a proper funeral and burial.

Don’t forget to support Human Voices Wake Us on Substack, where you can also get our newsletter and other extras. You can also support the podcast by ordering any of my books: Notes from the Grid, To the House of the Sun, The Lonely Young & the Lonely Old, and Bone Antler Stone.

Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to

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