Artists and patriots
A fine Americab patriot
Chords for Change
By BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
Published: August 5, 2004
People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I've tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.
Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."
It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.
Bruce Springsteen is a writer and performer.
The joint ACT-Move On tour plays to the strength of the Democratic Party, a loyal, active fan base in the artistic community. The GOP has no hope of countering this. I am under no illusions that people are going to see Springsteen to hear about voter registration. But that's the lure. People are going to spend a lot of time running around the country to protest Bush. It's one thing to make fun of Ben Affleck, without realizing he gave up something like $10m to be on the campaign trail with Kerry and Edwards. He turned down a movie role to have his fall free to work on the campaign. That's a hell of a lot of committment. George Clooney is his father's (running for Congress in Kentucky) main fundraiser. Another serious committment by an actor.
While the Republicans have sought to minimize what they can't reproduce, the reality is that Hollywood and the music industry has always been socially active. The difference is the power and number of artists behind this current push against Bush.
The last time something like this has happened was in the UK under Thatcher and Major. What you had was a series of films and music which were bitterly anti-Thatcher, but limited in their coordination. American actors tend to actively participate in politics more than make movies about it. It isn't hard to get actors to back liberal causes,and it hasn't since the 1930's. Actors belong to one of the most unionized workplaces in America for a reason. The 1946 Strike ended in bloody riots by actors and craft people against mob goons. They had to fight for the right to organize, in the streets, with ax handles and baseball bats.
It's little secret that Springsteen hasn't moved far from his working class roots. He lives in Rumson, NJ, 15 minutes from Freehold, where he grew up. Of course, Freehold is famous for its racetrack and the radio ads adn Rumson for its mansions. But considering the number of towns like Alpine, Silver Lakes and Mahwah, places with million dollar homes, it's surprising that a man who could live anywhere has remained so loyal to his Jersey Shore home. A man who can go the same places he did as a child and young man and not be hassled. For those under 30 and not from the Northeast, it is hard to understand how big Springsteen was from 1975-1990. He was routinely called God by his fans, a tour was a massivre deal, his onstage rants lovingly bootlegged in the days of vinyl, when that wasn't easy. He was a genuine working class hero done well, and more importantly, spoke on stage. Springsteen didn't do interviews, didn't seek that extra measure of fame easy to get for most celebrities. Stories about Springsteen centered on his kindness, loyalty and work ethic. His live shows were only rivaled by the Jerry Garcia dead for fan enthusiasm.
The controveral thing Springsteen has ever done politically was sing the song American Skin (41 Shots) in the Meadowlands, filled with an audience of local cops, who were none too pleased by it.
It wasn't that Springsteen was apolitical, but compared to R.E.M. or the Dixie Chicks or Dave Matthews, Springsteen rarely wore his politics on his sleeve. There was the Sun City movement in the 1980's, trying to get performers to stop playing in the Sun City resort in a bantustan not "officially" in South Africa. And the time he demanded the Reagan campaign stop using "Born in the USA" on their campaign stops. But for most of the last 30 years, Springsteen's politics were in his songs and not in his rare interviews. Springsteen faded from iconic status in the early 90's. A messy wrong marriage and divorce, the rise of rap and grunge, the break up of the E-Street Band, allowed Springsteen to fade a little from the limelight and get about living his life.
There was always a modesty and decency in Springsteen's music and how he has chosen to live as his children grow up.
There had been talk of asking Springsteen to play during the RNC to ruin their day, but this audacious plan was fairly unexpected. Basically, the Change Tour will play swing states, with different acts hitting different cities. So you'll have all the acts in Ohio for a few days, with teams in different cities. Springsteen will be playing with REM, in one city and the Dixie Chicks in another. The fact that Springsteem would lend his name to it is surprising, but deeply satisfying. More than any other American artist since Woody Guthrie, Springsteen has used his art to reflect gthe average woking person and their concerns. So it is pleasing, but not surprising he would cooperate on such a venture.
posted by Steve @ 3:13:00 AM