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Here’s one Boss listening to the 99% (LAUGH ALERT)
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | March 2, 2012 5:08PM | THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Critic / tconner@suntimes.com

Posted on 03/04/2012 9:32:38 AM PST by Chi-townChief

Woody Guthrie idolized Jesus Christ, but Woody could do without preachers. Holed up in a New York City flophouse in 1940, he penned his two greatest songs, each inspired by this point of view. “Jesus Christ Was a Man” depicted the Christian namesake as a worker “true and brave” who championed the rights of the common people and was betrayed by the political elite. “This Land Is Your Land” was Woody’s reaction to another song that bugged him to death, Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” As Joe Klein wrote in Woody Guthrie: A Life, Woody saw Berlin’s narcotic standard as “just another of those songs that told people not to worry, that God was in the driver’s seat.” Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, Woody reasoned that such sentiments encouraged passivity in the here and now. Woody believed God had already blessed America — made it for you and me — and that it’s our duty to use our God-given talents to maintain that blessing and live up to its gift.

Bruce Springsteen is often connected in the culture to Woody’s working-man spirit; no doubt he’ll be involved in some of the events this year celebrating the centennial of Woody’s birth. The swell of Occupy Wall Street protests and their seeming lack of new music thus ratcheted up some anticipation of Springsteen’s latest record, “Wrecking Ball,” his 17th studio album (out Tuesday but currently being released online song by song, day by day).

He’s written some lyrics that address and allude to the country’s recent financial crises and social inequities, but “Wrecking Ball” is a conflicted creation. In the end, Springsteen, now 62, merely falls to his knees and calls on “a shepherd” to come sort it all out.

Springsteen doesn’t write fiery protest songs. He relates conversations, repeats monologues, thinks aloud. It’s an effective tactic because it speaks with us, possibly for us, but rarely down to us. It certainly works in the opener, the single “We Take Care of Our Own,” a basic “Badlands”-style stomper and an ironic rallying cry. One can predict another “Born in the U.S.A.” moment here at some political rally, where a politician blares the song as he steps to the podium, having heard only the deceptively reassuring, patriotic chorus instead of the antithetical lines underneath (“There ain’t no help/The cavalry stayed home”). We can’t rely on outside aid, he’s saying; we’ve gotta watch out for each other.

The front end of the album steams ahead with similar sentiment. “Them fat cats,” he sneers in the desperate “Easy Money.” Around nearly every early verse, Springsteen — a 1 percenter who’s not exactly charging $5 a ticket for his shows and has long been nicknamed, perhaps troublingly in this particular context, the Boss — pokes at rich people and those who guard their sums. “The banker man grows fat / Working man grows thin,” he observes in “Jack of All Trades,” and that’s after noting, “Up on Banker’s Hill, the party’s still going strong / Down here below, we’re shackled and drawn.” In “Death to My Hometown,” he laments the quiet destruction of Main Street America, reciting an anti-corporate party line: “I never heard a sound / The marauders raided in the dark / And brought death to my hometown.”

Near the end of that one, though, Springsteen makes his call — a call for a real protest song, singing:

Now get yourself a song to sing

and sing it ’til you’re done

Sing it hard, and sing it well

Send the robber barons straight to hell!

The greedy thieves who came around

and ate the flesh of everything they found

whose crimes have gone unpunished now

who walk the streets as free men now.

The songs on “Wrecking Ball” might not be those songs, but perhaps the moment will focus their messages and help spread the values of a movement still finding its legs. Most of these lyrics were written well before protesters occupied public spaces around the world, and none of them are unusual standouts above his countless other trodden-upon characters and snapshots of America’s economic dark side.

What has changed is that one or two of these characters wear ties — a first, Spring­steen recently admitted to Rolling Stone. That’s been the minor miracle of Occupy Wall Street: the realization by American wage slaves that they are justified in taking to the streets, too, that coveralls and khakis are welcome in the marches, that we all have defiant songs to sing, and loudly.

Springsteen clearly sympathizes with Occupy, the 99 percent, whatever we’re calling them this week, but he just as clearly wants to keep a little distance. For example, he masks himself with some odd accents on a few songs. “Death to My Hometown” is delivered in an Irish brogue that matches the tune’s lively Celtic instrumentation. On the title track, a transcendent eulogy written in 2009 upon the destruction of Giants Stadium, Springsteen sings about being “raised in the swamps of Jersey” but chews a dialect that’s pure southeast Oklahoma.

Musically, the album’s satisfying, if not superb. Producer Ron Aniello fills in the spaces of these songs, which allegedly began life as “Nebraska”-style acoustic folk, with light electronic beats and plenty of guest support without overburdening anything. Assistance includes sporadic input from a few E Street Band members, including the final sax solos from the late Clarence Clemons (on “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Wrecking Ball”). Libertyville’s Tom Morello contributes thoughtful electric guitar to, unfortunately, a couple of the album’s less powerful statements, “Jack of All Trades” and “This Depression” (a meditation on mentality, not economics).

Springsteen ends the album by letting even higher voices speak on his behalf. The Bruce-by-numbers “Land of Hope and Dreams,” an E Street-wide epic he’s been toying with for more than a decade, quotes Curtis Mayfield in between train rides and assurances that “faith will be rewarded.” The whistled, trumpeted “Ring of Fire”-like impressions underneath “We Are Alive” mix up the struggles of railroad workers, civil-rights marchers and illegal aliens with “a cross up yonder on Calvary Hill” and further promises that “our souls and spirits rise.”

“Rocky Ground,” in particular, features a looped sample (someone shouting, “I’m a soldier!”) and gospel singer Michelle Moore cooing the song’s hook and then — people get ready — rapping the refrain. Springsteen, meanwhile, encapsulates his parting thoughts within a barrage of biblical language, from flocks and shepherds and 40 days and Canaan to more vague platitudes like “a new day is rising” and “a new day’s coming.”

“Pray … that your best is good enough,” Springsteen now advises. “The Lord will do the rest.”

Somewhere, hopefully, there’s a young, new Woody Guthrie out there, listening to this album and scribbling, scribbling.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 99; ows; rats; springsteen
Bruce Springsteen was great ... about a thousand years ago. He whould have retired back in the 80s. As far as Guthrie is concerned, if he were around now the lefties would probably call him a xenophobic Tea-Partier neocon or some such thing.
1 posted on 03/04/2012 9:32:44 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Chi-townChief

After Tunnel of Love, Springsteen lost me.

Bruce is now part of the 1% he writes protest songs about and like ALL useful idiots, if the lefties get their Brave New World, The Boss will be shipped off to the gulag...probably in Camden.


2 posted on 03/04/2012 9:39:11 AM PST by Le Chien Rouge
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To: Chi-townChief
The Boss, he's still around?

Maybe this will resurrect this dinosaur.

3 posted on 03/04/2012 9:45:13 AM PST by Red6
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To: Chi-townChief
He sounds like a no anesthetic hernia surgery, or a constipated roid movement to me.
4 posted on 03/04/2012 9:51:03 AM PST by rawcatslyentist (BO Stinks! So does Mitts magic underwear!)
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To: Chi-townChief
In college, we had a pretty funny, guitar playing comedian come to campus. In one of his bits he asserted that any Springsteen song consisted of: A girl's name + An American car + An East Coast City.

He solicited one of each from the audience, then proceeded, on the spot, to make up and sing what could have passed for a song from Springsteen's latest album:

"Parkin' outside Pittsburgh in my beat up Chevy / Sally in my backseat, our love gettin' heavy"

In the 20+ years since, every time I've read or heard about Springsteen, my first thought is of that comedian and how he had the formulaic nature of Springsteen pegged to a "T".

5 posted on 03/04/2012 9:52:50 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Red6

He’s extremely popular and has been for a long time.


6 posted on 03/04/2012 9:53:47 AM PST by Borges
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To: Chi-townChief

The guy is charging over a $100.00 a ticket for his upcoming tour. Nuff said.


7 posted on 03/04/2012 9:58:26 AM PST by BookmanTheJanitor
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To: Chi-townChief

“I ain’t a Communist necessarily, but I been in the red all my life.”

“One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed America for me.”

“Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
This land was made for you and me.”

Lefties of all stripes loved Guthrie then, especially the Communist Party USA. He even wrote for the CPUSA’s newspaper, The Daily Worker, in a column titled “Woody Sez”. It is debated whether Guthrie was a formal member of the CPUSA, but he once said, “The best thing that I did in 1936 was to sign up with the Communist Party.”

If he had lived to witness Obama’s election, he’d have probably said something like “for the first time in my life I’m proud of my country.” Guthrie would be right at home among the most radical elements of an OWS protest today.

“This Land is Your Land” is a communist anthem, just like Lennon’s “Imagine”. Whether folks ignore or fail to understand the meaning its lyrics is irrelevant.


8 posted on 03/04/2012 10:03:02 AM PST by Skepolitic
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To: Chi-townChief

Heh, I remember those “Occupy Wall Street” things. They were in the news a couple years ago and they eventually became encampments for the homeless. Springsteen is a little long in the tooth, but he’s still savvy enough not to waste songs on that kind of passing fad, I hope.


9 posted on 03/04/2012 10:09:19 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: Borges
Correct. The attacks on Springsteen's music by many Freepers are simply gratuitous. Now don't get me wrong, Springsteen as a person is a hypocrite and his leftist babble is nothing but an act to ingratiate himself with the entertainment media who have returned the favor over the years by writing obnoxiously fawning and obsequious articles and books about him. However, his body of music puts him up there with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty and Paul Simon as the greatest American (rock) songwriters of the past 50 years in terms of consistent output and career longevity.

No doubt that if Springsteen was a political conservative and played benefit concerts for Reagan and Bush instead of Clinton and Obama, he'd be hailed here as America's greatest rock artist.

So attack the man (he deserves it) but don't marginalize his talent just because you don't agree with him politically. That's a tactic of the Left.

10 posted on 03/04/2012 10:10:54 AM PST by SamAdams76 (I am 69 days away from outliving Phil Hartman)
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To: Skepolitic

11 posted on 03/04/2012 10:13:58 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: Chi-townChief
a real protest song, singing: Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it ’til you’re done Sing it hard, and sing it well Send the robber barons straight to hell!

So a protest song is envy wrapped in pretty music?

12 posted on 03/04/2012 10:19:20 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Chi-townChief
“The banker man grows fat / Working man grows thin,” he observes

Their wallets, maybe. In reality, the banker eats steamed salmon and goes to the gym so he can maintain his $1,000-per-suit wardrobe; but the working man is obese from chips, cheese, pizza and beer.

13 posted on 03/04/2012 10:32:20 AM PST by Albion Wilde ("The facts of life are Tory." -- Margaret Thatcher)
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To: Skepolitic

Yeah but it’s key to rememeber that Woody was really pissed at immigrants including Irving Berlin.


14 posted on 03/04/2012 10:34:56 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: SamAdams76

I thought Springsteen was great back in the 70s as those others you mentioned (well, Young and Simon not so much) but when your time up it’s up, it’s that simple. Same thing with the Stones, pretty much dead from the neck up since the 70s. And it goes on and on: U2, REM, The Cure, Elvis Costello all just ran out of steam.


15 posted on 03/04/2012 10:40:29 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Chi-townChief
Springsteen is and has been overrated from the beginning. He has simplistic trite songs sung in a mumble by a man with a poor voice at best. AND I am a fan who gone scene him more than once in concert.

Since the release of ‘Nebraska’ he has been less and less interesting and more and more annoying. The money and fame has definitely gone to his head.

Try a little something from a contemporary that can actually sing and brings real life experience into the song writing process.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB3qDfiwHe0

OR:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lLn_0rcpzc&feature=related

OR:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ_W3RYa0LI&feature=related

Or an oldie but a goody:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5eND9KKsAE&feature=related

16 posted on 03/04/2012 10:43:56 AM PST by Jim from C-Town (The government is rarely benevolent, often malevolent and never benign!)
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To: Skepolitic

And out of nowhere his son, Arlo, is a self admitted conservative Republican. Karma do be sumpin else once in a while.


17 posted on 03/04/2012 10:47:57 AM PST by jstaff
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To: Chi-townChief

Guthrie thought Jesus was a politician.


18 posted on 03/04/2012 10:50:20 AM PST by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: Chi-townChief

Being proud Communists, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger protested AGAINST the US going to war against Nazi Germany.

Woody’s guitar didn’t “kill fascists” later in war.


19 posted on 03/04/2012 10:55:08 AM PST by a fool in paradise (If Obama brings troops home from Japan and Germany he can claim he won WWII finally as well as Iraq.)
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To: Chi-townChief

Being proud Communists, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger protested AGAINST the US going to war against Nazi Germany.

Woody’s guitar didn’t “kill fascists” UNTIL later in war.


20 posted on 03/04/2012 10:55:25 AM PST by a fool in paradise (If Obama brings troops home from Japan and Germany he can claim he won WWII finally as well as Iraq.)
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To: Red6

He’s not the Boss of me.


21 posted on 03/04/2012 10:56:59 AM PST by a fool in paradise (If Obama brings troops home from Japan and Germany he can claim he won WWII finally as well as Iraq.)
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To: a fool in paradise

If he’s the Boss then we’re disgruntled employees.


22 posted on 03/04/2012 11:06:36 AM PST by Borges
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To: a fool in paradise
Being proud Communists, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger protested AGAINST the US going to war against Nazi Germany.

Woody’s guitar didn’t “kill fascists” UNTIL later in war.

Woody's guitar changed its tune shortly after 22 June 1941, which was before the US entered World War II.

Curiously, that's when the US labor movement, the media, and non-fascist leftists became really interested in getting the US involved as well.

Pearl Harbor wasn't until 7 December 1941.

23 posted on 03/04/2012 11:25:24 AM PST by Skepolitic
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To: Chi-townChief
I used to like “Born In The USA”, until I listened to the lyrics, great beat. All of the guys I grew up with served in VN and he managed to insult all of us by portraying us as a bunch of mind damaged losers, pissed me off.
24 posted on 03/04/2012 11:38:50 AM PST by Little Bill (Sorry)
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To: Skepolitic

“Woody’s guitar changed its tune shortly after 22 June 1941”

Exactly. The left was against the war, so long as Germany and Russia were working together to divvy up Europe amongst themselves, but as soon as the Germans revealed their plan to dispose of the Commies, the left changed its tune. They’ve never been anti-war, anti-war is just a cover to sucker the masses into opposing wars against the left’s allies.


25 posted on 03/04/2012 12:00:45 PM PST by Boogieman
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To: Jim from C-Town

Michael Stanley’s cool, a fellow Clevelander!!!


26 posted on 03/04/2012 12:22:11 PM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Jim from C-Town

P.S. I thought This Town would be the oldie ...


27 posted on 03/04/2012 12:25:46 PM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Albion Wilde

Who sits in front of a $500 flat-screen TV eating all that junk food while his obese 12-year old son with breasts plays on a $150 X-Box 360. Poverty in America is a joke. It doesn’t exist, like hunger. I’m so f**king sick of hearing ‘’poverty in America’’. It’s bullshit. If poverty does exist in America it’s an indulgence.


28 posted on 03/04/2012 12:28:12 PM PST by jmacusa (Political correctness is cultural Marxism. I'm not a Marxist.)
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To: jstaff

Arlo is an Occupier, not so conservative.


29 posted on 03/04/2012 12:48:13 PM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Chi-townChief
U should check out his newer stuff. ‘Shadowlands’ is great ‘Another Night in America’ is also very good, but ‘The Ground’ may be the best album of the last decade.

He just released a new album last week ‘The Hang’. I have not heard it but I have heard the title song;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7zvSRYR4z8

and “Breaking Down”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s90imz4sFRc

I also just received the tickets for his March 25 concert @ the Tangier in Akron. His shows are always a good time!

30 posted on 03/04/2012 12:56:09 PM PST by Jim from C-Town (The government is rarely benevolent, often malevolent and never benign!)
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To: jstaff

He described himself as a conservative Rebuplican, even gave reasons. I didn’t say anything about where he goes to sing. Remember Rush Limbaugh had SIR Elton John perform at his wedding, does that make SIR Elton John any less of a lib?


31 posted on 03/05/2012 8:06:56 AM PST by jstaff
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I hear "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Radio Nowhere" all the time at my local Walgreens. "My Hometown" and "I'm On Fire" too sometimes.

ff

32 posted on 03/29/2012 5:26:38 AM PDT by foreverfree
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To: Chi-townChief

——Bruce Springsteen was great ... about a thousand years ago.-—

“The River” was his best. A fabulous album. But he’s been declining since then. His vision has progressively constricted, from the trials of every man, down to liberal cliches.


33 posted on 03/29/2012 5:45:17 AM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas (Viva Christo Rey)
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