Friday, November 8, 2013

Politics In The Age of Springsteen

Author's Note:  As with the other posts on this blog, this entry is mine alone, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other contributors to this blog, or Legends Of Springsteen as a whole.  Thank you.


I'm a conservative.  Calm down, it's not that big a deal.  I tend to vote for the Republican party (Although I am a registered independent, and identify as a Libertarian).  And I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fanatic.  I don't think the two should be mutually exclusive, but alas there are people who are shocked to hear that I am both.

To be honest, I don't feel Bruce is that political of a musician.  I think he points out certain issues but, for the most part, he tends to just point out a problem, and it's up to the listener to decide how it should be fixed.  Now, in concert, Bruce certainly tends to give more of his political opinions.  But when compared to the number of times he encourages fans to just sing, dance, and enjoy themselves it's practically non-existent.

Take a song like "41 Shots (American Skin)".  Most conservatives will tell you that this song is an "anti-police, anti-2nd Amendment, liberal, white guilt" anthem.  I don't get that whatsoever.  This song is simply about what happened to Amadou Diallo. Bruce doesn't say who's right or wrong, anything about gun control, or race.  He simply states the fact that an unarmed man was shot 41 times by police.  I don't care what side of the political spectrum you are on, that's not right.  Some on the far left have called those cops murderers.  Others on the far right have said those cops were just doing their job.  But I think most people fall somewhere in the middle.  I know I do.  Yes, those cops (who have possibly the most difficult job in the world) killed someone, but it wasn't with any malicious intent.  I doubt that makes it any easier for those cops to sleep at night, however.

Bruce brought this song back out early in the Wrecking Ball tour, in honor of Trayvon Martin.  (Note: I started writing this entry prior to Zimmerman being found "Not Guilty") Again, Bruce didn't mention Trayvon, didn't wear a hoodie, didn't mention anything about guns.  However, when he played the opening chords to this song every single person in the arena knew why.  He simply wanted to create discussion.  An unarmed young man was killed.  It's tragic.  I've debated the Trayvon Martin case several times among my friends (I don't think George Zimmerman is guilty of 2nd degree murder and I think the media portrayal of his has been disgraceful), but that doesn't take away from the fact that Trayvon is dead. And that is tragic.  I remember seeing Bruce play this song in 2012 at Madison Square Garden.  Many people in my section booed, heckled, sat down, some even went so far as to give Bruce the finger while he played it.  I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now.

Earlier this week, Chris Christie was re-elected as Governor Of New Jersey.  Christie, an avid Springsteen fan and conservative as well, probably isn't Springsteen's favorite politician but that hasn't stopped Christie from seeing Bruce in concert over 100 times.  And I don't think Bruce's criticisms of the governor has diminished Christie's enjoyment of Bruce's music, as seen here.

I remember seeing Bruce on the Magic tour in the summer of 2008, and several times throughout the night Bruce took a moment to criticize then President Bush, about the poor state the economy and the high number of Americans who were unemployed.  One year later, on the Working On A Dream, when the economy was worse and unemployment was even higher, Bruce did not criticize President Obama once. At the time part of me did think "Nothing to say, Bruce?" But then I thought about it.  Did it really matter?  Would it improve the economy?  Or create millions of jobs?  Nope.  So let Bruce have his opinion, I'll have mine, and let's just enjoy the music.  And that's about the most pacifist thing I've ever said.