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Concerts for Change [Springsteen and his annoying crowd]
The Nation ^ | 10/1/04 | Katrina vanden Heuvel

Posted on 10/02/2004 5:45:05 PM PDT by MarlboroRed

"I've got 25 years of credibility built up, and this isn't something I've moved into lightly," Bruce Springsteen says on the eve of his first Vote for Change concert in Philadelphia this Friday. "But this is the one where you spend some of that credibility. It's an emergency intervention."

Or as one of America's great musicians explained in a recent New York Times Op-Ed, "Personally, for the last twenty five years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics...This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out."

So, putting his music where his mouth is, Springsteen--along with Dave Matthews, the Dixie Chicks, Babyface, R.E.M, John Fogerty and more than a dozen other musicians--will be fanning out to play concerts in the battleground states. Kicking off on October 1 and running through 8, the concerts will raise money for America Coming Together to conduct voter education and go door-to-door to assist people in getting to the polls on November 2.

Rock historian Dave Marsh says in a recent USA Today article that the scale of Vote for Change has been rivaled only by Amnesty's 1988 International Human Rights Now! Tour. Another pop music critic compared the marshaling of musical talent behind the upcoming concerts to "a fervor that hasn't been witnessed since musicians in the late '60s united to protest Richard M. Nixon and America's involvement in the Vietnam War."

In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine, Springsteen spoke with RS editor Jann Wenner about his conscience, the upcoming election, and the relationship of an artist to his audience and politics. Click here to check out (and pass around) the interview. It is well worth reading--and keeping by your side--in these next weeks. And it's not too late to buy tix to one of the concerts by clicking here.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 10thavenuemoron; bruce; brucespringsteen; lefties; music; springsteen
Here's the Rolling Stone Interview:

We've Been Misled by JANN S. WENNER, September 22, 2004

[Q]Do you see these Vote for Change concerts reaching undecided voters, or are they more to rally the energy of people who have made up their minds?

I always felt that the musician's job, as I experienced it growing up, was to provide an alternative source of information, a spiritual and social rallying place, somewhere you went to have a communal experience.

I don't know if someone is going to run to the front of the stage and shout, "I'm saved" or "I'm switching," but I'm going to try. I will be calling anyone in a bow tie to come to the front of the stage, and I'll see what I can do.

[Q]In a practical sense, what are you accomplishing?

First of all, we have a large group of musicians -- Dave Matthews, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., John Fogerty, James Taylor and many others -- who are coming together as a rallying point for change. I think the concerts are going to be an energizing experience for all who come. Of course, I've met a few people who, in a very friendly way, said they are not coming.

Basically, the concerts are raising money specifically for America Coming Together to do very practical things: voter education, to go out and mobilize voters, to go door-to-door, to assist voters getting to the polls. They're the real foot soldiers who are going to get out the progressive vote. That's probably the concerts' most important result.

[Q]Why did you stay away from being actively involved in partisan politics for so long?

I didn't grow up in a very political household. The only politics I heard was from my mother. I came home from grade school, where someone asked me if I was Republican or Democrat, and I asked my mom, "Well, what are we?" She said, "We're Democrats, 'cause Democrats are for the working people." I was politicized by the Sixties, like most of the other people of that generation at that time. I can remember doing a concert when I was probably in my very late teens, helping to bus people down to Washington for an anti-war demonstration.

But still, basically, I wanted to remain an independent voice for the audience that came to my shows. We've tried to build up a lot of credibility over the years, so that if we took a stand on something, people would receive it with an open mind. Part of not being particularly partisan was just an effort to remain a very thoughtful voice in my fans' lives.

I always liked being involved actively more at a grass-roots level, to act as a partisan for a set of ideals: civil rights, economic justice, a sane foreign policy, democracy. That was the position I felt comfortable coming from.

[Q]Did it make you more credible if you avoided endorsing an individual?

It makes people less likely to marginalize you or pigeonhole you. Taking a definite stand on this election has probably provided some extra definition to the work I've been doing over the years. Our band is in pretty much what I think of as the center. So if I wrote, say, "American Skin," which was controversial, it couldn't easily be dismissed, because people had faith that I was a measured voice. That's been worth something, and it's something I don't want to lose. But we have drifted far from that center, and this is a time to be very specific about where I stand.

Because you scrupulously avoided commercial use of your music, you built a reputation for integrity and conscience. You must be aware of the potency of that.

I tried to build a reputation for thoughtfulness -- that was the main thing I was aiming for. I took the songs, the issues and the people I was writing about seriously. I wanted it to be an entertaining but thoughtful presentation. If there was a goal, it was as simple as that.

[Q]Now you're asking your audience to think even more about and explore what else you're saying in your songs.

There are a portion of your fans who do quite a bit of selective listening. That's the way that people use pop music, and that's part of the way it rolls. The upside is that there has been an increased definition about the things I've written about and where I stand on certain issues. That's been a good thing.

I think that a more complicated picture of who you are as an artist and who they are as an audience emerges. The example I've been giving is that I've been an enormous fan of John Wayne all my life, although not a fan of his politics. I've made a place for all those different parts of who he was. I find deep inspiration and soulfulness in his work.

[Q]Your audience invests a lot in you, a very personal investment. There is nothing more personal, in some ways, than the music people listen to. I know from my own experience how you identify and relate to the person singing. You have put your fingerprints on their imagination. That is very, very intimate. When something cracks the mirror, it can be hard for the fan who you have asked to identify with you.

Pop musicians live in the world of symbology. You live and die by the symbol in many ways. You serve at the behest of your audience's imagination. It's a complicated relationship. So you're asking people to welcome the complexity in the interest of fuller and more honest communication.

The audience and the artist are valuable to one another as long as you can look out there and see yourself, and they look back and see themselves. That's asking quite a bit, but that is what happens. When that bond is broken, by your own individual beliefs, personal thoughts or personal actions, it can make people angry. As simple as that. You're asking for a broader, more complicated relationship with the members of your audience than possibly you've had in the past.

[Q]What do you stand to lose or gain from this as an artist?

As an artist and a citizen, you're gaining a chance to take part in moving the country in the direction of its deepest ideals. Artists are always speaking to people's freedoms. The shout for freedom and its implications was implicit in rock & roll from its inception. Freedom can only find its deepest meaning within a community of purpose. So as an individual I'm getting to take a small part in that process.

As an artist, I'd like to have a broader understanding with all the different segments of my audience and have a deeper experience when we come out and play for people. I think that's something that could be gained, and that's something worth doing. I tend to think a relatively small amount of people might get turned off by it, 'cause I've tried to do this as thoughtfully as possible, and because any relationship worth something can take some rough-and-tumble. We'll see.

[Q]This has obviously been on your mind for a while. How did you come to this decision?

I knew after we invaded Iraq that I was going to be involved in the election. It made me angry. We started to talk about it onstage. I take my three minutes a night for what I call my public-service announcement. We talked about it almost every night on our summer tour.

I felt we had been misled. I felt they had been fundamentally dishonest and had frightened and manipulated the American people into war. And as the saying goes, "The first casualty of war is truth." I felt that the Bush doctrine of pre-emption was dangerous foreign policy. I don't think it has made America safer.

Look at what is going on now: We are quickly closing in on what looks an awful lot like the Vietnamization of the Iraq war. John McCain is saying we could be there for ten or twenty years, and John Kerry says four years. How many of our best young people are going to die between now and that time, and what exactly for? Initially I thought I was going to take my acoustic guitar and play in some theaters, find some organizations to work for and do what I could. I was going to lend my voice for a change in the administration and a change in the direction of the country.

Sitting on the sidelines would be a betrayal of the ideas I'd written about for a long time. Not getting involved, just sort of maintaining my silence or being coy about it in some way, just wasn't going to work this time out. I felt that it was a very clear historical moment.

[Q]So there wasn't a moment of doubt in your mind about what the right thing to do was?

It was something that gestated over a period of time, and as events unfolded and the election got closer, it became clearer. I don't want to watch the country devolve into an oligarchy, watch the division of wealth increase and see another million people beneath the poverty line this year. These are all things that have been the subtext of so much of my music, and to see the country move so quickly to the right, so much further to the right than what the president campaigned on -- these are the things that removed whatever doubt I may have had about getting involved.

[Q]Are you expecting to have your motives severely criticized?

That's just a part of what happens. You understand you're going to be attacked in different ways. That just comes with it. That wasn't any concern.

[Q]Do you think there is a climate of trying to intimidate artists and creative people?

People are always trying to shut up the people they don't agree with -- through any means necessary, usually. There certainly was an attempt to intimidate the Dixie Chicks. What happened to them was a result of war fever - simple as that, war fever. They've handled it incredibly. They are very smart, tough women, and they did not back down. But it's one of those sad paradoxes that in theory we're fighting for freedom, and the first thing people are willing to throw out is freedom of speech at home and castigate anybody who is coming from a different point of view.

[Q]A lot of people think that you have no right as an artist to comment on this or play a role in politics.

I don't know if a lot of people think that. It is something that is said. It's sort of part of the "Punch and Judy" show that goes on when people disagree with what you're saying.

[Q]How much do you follow this election?

I think that Senator Kerry has long played it close to the vest, and that's his style. However, the presidency is like the heavyweight championship: They don't give it to you, you have to take it. He has a slow, deliberate style that may not make for an electrifying campaigner, but it may make for a very good president. But, of course, you have to get there.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this election is that the machinery for taking something that is a lie and making it feel true, or taking something that is true and making it feel like a lie -- the selling machinery has become very powerful. Senator Kerry has to make people pay attention to the man behind the curtain. He has to take the risk and rip the veil off the administration's deceptions. They are a hall of mirrors and a house of cards.

For Senator Kerry, the good news is he has the facts on his side. The bad news is that often in the current climate it can feel like that doesn't matter, and he has to make it matter.

[Q]What do you think of how the election is being covered and conducted through the press?

The press has let the country down. It's taken a very amoral stand, in that essential issues are often portrayed as simply one side says this and the other side says that. I think that Fox News and the Republican right have intimidated the press into an incredible self-consciousness about appearing objective and backed them into a corner of sorts where they have ceded some of their responsibility and righteous power.

The Washington Post and New York Times apologies about their initial reporting about Iraq not being critical enough were very revealing. I am a dedicated Times reader, and I've found enormous sustenance from Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd on the op-ed page. There has been great reporting, but there has also been some self-consciousness in some of the reporting about the policy differences in this election.

This is going to be an issue after the election. I don't know if it began with the Iraq War, but shortly thereafter there was an enormous amount of Fox impersonators among what you previously thought were relatively sane media outlets across the cable channels. It was very disheartening. The job of the press is to tell the truth without fear or favor. We have to get back to that standard.

The free press is supposed to be the lifeline and the blood of democracy. That is the position of responsibility that those institutions have. Those things are distorted by ratings and by money to where you're getting one hour of the political conventions. No matter how staged they are, I think they're a little more important than people eating bugs. I think that for those few nights, the political life of the nation should take priority, and the fact that it so casually does not means something is wrong. If you want to watch people eating bugs, that's fine, I can understand that, too, but let's do it on another night.

Real news is the news we need to protect our freedoms. You get tabloid news, you get blood-and-guts news, you get news shot through with a self-glorifying facade of patriotism, but people have to sift too much for the news that we need to protect our freedoms. It should be gloriously presented to the people on a nightly basis. The loss of some of the soberness and seriousness of those institutions has had a devastating effect upon people's ability to respond to the events of the day.

[Q]Do you think the press is leading us away from a fair and objective reading of this election?

It's gotten very complicated, and I think it's blurred the truth. Whether you like the Michael Moore film or not, a big part of its value was that it showed how sanitized the war that we received on television at night is. The fact that the administration refused to allow photographs of the flag-draped coffins of returning dead, that the president hasn't shown up at a single military funeral for the young people who gave their lives for his policies, is disgraceful. You have the Swift-boat guys who have been pretty much discredited, but there is an atmosphere that is created by so much willing media exposure that it imparts them credibility.

[Q]What do you think the responsibility of the artist is in society?

There is a long tradition of the artist being involved in the life of the nation. For me, it goes back to Woody Guthrie, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Bob Dylan. These were all people who were alternative sources of information. When Dylan hit in the mid-Sixties, he brought with him as true a reading of what was going on as was out there.

People have the choice to not listen, but you have these business lobbyists who affect the direction of public policy. For example, what is going on with the assault-rifle ban is disgusting. The labor unions try to affect policy in their fashion. Artists do it by talking and singing and addressing the life of the mind.

I don't think the audience are lemmings. They get their various points of view from a lot of places. I try to come in and be that alternative source of information. I try to speak my case as directly as I can. If that makes you angry, that's fine. The artist is there to open up discourse, to get people thinking about American identity: Who are we? What do we fight for? What do we stand for? I view these things as a fundamental part of my job, and they have been for the past thirty years.

[Q]You've tried to think long and hard about what it means to be an American and about our distinctive identity and position in the world. What is that great thing about America that appeals to you that you are fighting for?

I felt I lived the prototypical American life - the way I grew up, the town I grew up in, my family life. Things that I cared about, things that I aspired to, they were just something that naturally came to me when I wrote. I think that this particular election is, at the core, a debate about the soul of the nation. I think we can move toward greater economic justice for all of our citizens, or we cannot. I think we can move toward a sane, responsible foreign policy, or we cannot. For me, these are issues that go right to the heart of the spiritual life of the nation. That is something I have written about. It cannot be abandoned and is worth fighting and fighting and fighting for.

When you embark on a creative life, it has a dynamic of its own. You are partially directing it, and you are partially riding the wave. If your work is threaded into people's lives and into the life of your town, your family, your country, then you're like everybody else -- you're at the mercy of events, you're borne along on the currents of time and history.

It's sort of "Gee, I came from this place, I wrote songs about these things that mattered to me." I was serious about them. I was serious about taking what I had written and having some practical impact, which we started to do in the early Eighties. Nothing fancy. I can play my guitar, I can make a few bucks, I can bring some attention to some folks doing the real work and have some small impact in the towns we visit. You move down the road and it just sort of . . . happens.

[Q]Did you feel the call of your nation or the call of your community?

I don't know. Personally, I wouldn't view myself as that kind of valuable.

[Q]So you feel the call from your heart?

Yeah, I can hear the bells chiming. I've had a long life with my audience. I always tell the story about the guy with The Rising: "Hey, Bruce, we need you!" he yelled at me through the car window. That's about the size of it: You get a few letters that say, "Hey, man, we need you." You bump into some people at a club and you say, "Hey, man, what's going on?" And they go, "Hey, we need you." Yeah, they don't really need me, but I'm proud if they need what I do. That's what my band is. That's what we were built for.


What a joke! Why are these people referred to as artists? Wagner, Milton, Joyce, Rembrandt, Mozart, Nabokov were artists--these creatures are nothing more than the equivalent of court jesters in medieval times and the whores and scum who entertained during Roman times. Why we give these people any attention has always baffled me.

1 posted on 10/02/2004 5:45:05 PM PDT by MarlboroRed
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To: MarlboroRed
"I've got 25 years of credibility built up..."

Credible about what....being a rock & roll poseur for 30 years?

2 posted on 10/02/2004 5:47:29 PM PDT by eddie willers
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To: MarlboroRed
Springteen, Clinton, Kerry.

Who sings like he's on the toilet, who spews on women next to the toilet and who's candicacy is going down the toilet?

3 posted on 10/02/2004 5:48:05 PM PDT by isthisnickcool (Only dummies play poker with George W. Bush.)
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To: MarlboroRed
[Q]Did you feel the call of your nation or the call of your community?

I don't know. Personally, I wouldn't view myself as that kind of valuable.

Good idea. Now STFU and sing--and make it the old stuff, before you sucked.

4 posted on 10/02/2004 5:48:39 PM PDT by Petronski (DEMS: Kim tested, Osama approved.)
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To: isthisnickcool

Very nice.

5 posted on 10/02/2004 5:49:06 PM PDT by MarlboroRed
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To: MarlboroRed

not since Vietnam, thats just what we want another Vietnam. Kerrys back trying 1 more time to put another X next to our name. I think Kerry truely hates America

6 posted on 10/02/2004 5:51:03 PM PDT by mammer
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To: MarlboroRed

"I've got 25 years of credibility built up" Bruce Springsteen says

He lost most of it 20 years ago, and the last shred of it after "The Rising" was released. He used to write from real life experience, now he just fakes it. "The Rising" was just embarrassing and sounded like it came from a man who got his inspiration from watching excessive amounts of CNN.

7 posted on 10/02/2004 5:52:11 PM PDT by orangelobster
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To: MarlboroRed
I tried to build a reputation for thoughtfulness -- that was the main thing I was aiming for.

Springsteen considers whizzing on his fans "thoughtfulness."

Nice "aim," Bruce -- that'll pay off for ya.

8 posted on 10/02/2004 5:52:19 PM PDT by F16Fighter
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To: MarlboroRed

I still like some of his songs.... yet, politically, he is not only naive but plain dumb.

9 posted on 10/02/2004 5:53:32 PM PDT by Kurt_D
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To: MarlboroRed

Always liked Bruces music. For one thing he was never the one in the tabloids or throwing up in oublic or making stupid comments. That all has changed. Sucks for me because I won't buy his CD's anymore. (oh yeah, sucks for him too)

10 posted on 10/02/2004 5:55:05 PM PDT by Moleman
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To: eddie willers
"I've got 25 years of credibility built up

Take a laxative already, Bruce.

You'll thank me tomorrow for it.

(Heck, it may even help your singing.)

11 posted on 10/02/2004 5:58:39 PM PDT by TomB ("The terrorist wraps himself in the world's grievances to cloak his true motives." - S. Rushdie)
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To: MarlboroRed
first thing people are willing to throw out is freedom of speech at home and castigate anybody who is coming from a different point of view.

Bruce, it's business. I like some of your music, but I'm not going to pay money that's going toward leftist junk if I can help it. That's MY freedom of speech - and choice.

And you are extremely ignorant about guns.

12 posted on 10/02/2004 5:59:29 PM PDT by Dan from Michigan ("Dead or alive, I got a .45 - and I never miss!!!" - AC/DC - Problem Child)
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To: MarlboroRed

" I don't want to watch the country devolve into an oligarchy"

Ah, I see. So the plan to prevent this is to elect a billionaire president?

13 posted on 10/02/2004 6:01:49 PM PDT by HarryCaul
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: MarlboroRed

I liked Bruce, too bad he won't shut up and sing. His music used to remind me of my younger days. Now I have added his old albums to the dump pile(must admit I don't buy his cd's anymore) So doesn't hurt him financially, but makes me feel better.

15 posted on 10/02/2004 6:38:57 PM PDT by Claire1
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To: Kurt_D

if you listen to music 24 hours a day... 365 days a year, you can hear better songs than anything he ever wrote.... EVER!

16 posted on 10/02/2004 6:44:22 PM PDT by sneaker
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To: eddie willers

I've got 25 years of credibility built up, and this isn't something I've moved into lightly," Bruce Springsteen says on the eve of his first Vote for Change concert

Truth in Advertising laws require that a translation from Liberal speak be inserted here.

"I've got 25 years of ego built up. I would be just crushed if Bush gets re-elected. That would mean that I am really nothing more then a washed up pop star. I got to do this so if Bush loses I can keep lying to myself that I am relevent to the public".

17 posted on 10/02/2004 6:55:41 PM PDT by MNJohnnie (Vote Bush 2004-We have the solutions, Kerry Democrats? Nothing but slogans)
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To: MNJohnnie
Wouldn't it be cool if all these bozos moved to France after Bush is re-elected, as they threatened 4 years ago (but never did)? Just think, all of these clowns in one place. How wonderful it would be.

And it would raise the composite IQ of both nations.

18 posted on 10/02/2004 7:04:41 PM PDT by WarEagle
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To: WarEagle

Total moratorium on BS posts. . .anybody???

19 posted on 10/02/2004 8:01:45 PM PDT by nimbysrule
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To: nimbysrule; WarEagle
Good Evening All-

Posted by nimbysrule:
"...Total moratorium on BS posts. . .anybody???..."

If you consider WarEagle's post to be BS and you're looking for a moratorium on BS posts, why did you make your complaint a "public" comment when it wasn't directly related to the article? You could have easily sent FReepmail.

Thinking of all those dope-addicted musicians (Ted Nugent excluded) and empty-headed Hollywood jerks living together in a commune in France kind of made me laugh!

~ Blue Jays ~

20 posted on 10/02/2004 8:17:04 PM PDT by Blue Jays (Rock Hard, Ride Free)
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To: Moleman

I used to like the Boss. He hasn't put out a good album since 'Born in the USA'. That was in 1984.

21 posted on 10/02/2004 8:22:07 PM PDT by dancusa (Kerry is a phoney and a poseur)
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To: nimbysrule

Drudge has a link to a statement by the Dixie Chicks. Post that one before you ban BS posts. Its a hoot.

22 posted on 10/02/2004 8:23:08 PM PDT by linn37 (Have you hugged your Phlebotomist today?)
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To: dancusa

More like "Boring The USA" at this point.

There oughta be a law in music: "Has-Beens need not apply." Bruce could take lessons from Alice Cooper, who understands that people go to concerts for the music, not to be lectured to.

23 posted on 10/02/2004 8:27:57 PM PDT by WestVirginiaRebel (Global Test? Test THIS.)
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To: WestVirginiaRebel

So he is wrong in his political views. You should get your facts strait. In 2003 Springsteen concerts grossed 116 million in North America alone. It was the second-best grossing concert outing in history. Hardly the numbers of someone who is washed up.

24 posted on 10/02/2004 10:27:57 PM PDT by reply2
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To: MarlboroRed
Rock historian Dave Marsh says in a recent USA Today article that the scale of Vote for Change has been rivaled only by Amnesty's 1988 International Human Rights Now! Tour.

Ever hear of Live Aid, Dave? And I just love all the re-writing of history regarding Springsteen's involvement with politics. He's done very few benefits in his career, but he did the No Nukes shows 25 years ago, and a benefit for the Christic Institute in the 90s. And he's been lecturing his audience about politics since the 70s.

25 posted on 10/02/2004 10:33:08 PM PDT by NYCVirago
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To: Moleman

I bet Sean Hannity is so glad he pushed Bruce's last cd the way he did.


26 posted on 10/02/2004 10:33:15 PM PDT by My Favorite Headache (Absalom, Absalom, Absalom....)
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To: reply2
So he is wrong in his political views. You should get your facts strait. In 2003 Springsteen concerts grossed 116 million in North America alone. It was the second-best grossing concert outing in history. Hardly the numbers of someone who is washed up.

And how's the current tour doing? It looks like there's plenty of good seats still available. Shocker!

27 posted on 10/02/2004 10:35:33 PM PDT by NYCVirago
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