Monday, March 30, 2009

How I Finally Figured Out that Bruce Spingsteen Rulz

It started about a year and a half ago at a friend's karaoke bachelor party. I love karaoke, even though I'm too chicken to sing (naturally, I secretly want to be a superstar - I've been practicing The Tide Is High). I enjoy karaoke for two reasons - 1) it's exhilarating to see someone nail whatever song they've chosen and 2) paying closer attention to the lyrics of a familiar song opens my mind to its deeper meaning and makes the song more special. I had the pleasure of watching a friend rock Dancing in the Dark, which made me realize that the lyrics to that song are really expressive and fun. As a result, I became a little obsessed with that tune.

Moving forward a year later, Mr. Springsteen brought his one-man, acoustic show to the Eastern Michigan University campus for an Obama rally. A free Springsteen show within two miles of of my home is a pretty rare treat, and I had the afternoon off from work, so I happily joined my friends there. Honestly, that sort of show wasn't really my bag. I don't go in for the stripped down Dylan thing because honestly, it all kinda sounds the same to me. I know I'll probably make the mental switch someday, and realize that sort of bare-bones folkiness is amazing, but it hasn't happened yet.

However, Bruce did something else that absolutely blew me away. As he gently strummed his guitar, he took a few moments to share his deep thoughts on Obama. I remember the exact words with which he began his speech. He said, "For most of my creative life, I have been measuring the distance between the American dream and the American reality". He went on to say that he still believes that the American dream can be a reality for all Americans, but that in recent years, the distance between the two has grown exponentially. He believes Barack Obama understands that distance, and wants to bring the dream back to the American people. He also lamented the 2004 election, saying, "I had the tequila shots line up on the bar, and everything," which got a big laugh. But then he added, "This time, we're gonna win." I was verklempt, not only because he so beautifully articulated the meaning of his work, but also because he had given me the most inspiring pro-Obama message I had heard thus far.

In light of Obama's victory, I was excited to see Bruce perform with the E Street Band at the Superbowl in February, because I had a sense that the performance would be extra-celebratory. And it was exactly the sort of big, loud, exuberant sound that I wanted from him. I think he actually matched Prince's epic 2006 Superbowl halftime show (the added bonus that I can feel a lot better about Bruce's politics these days). And then, to top it all off, he slid across a catwalk and knocked the camera over with his schlong. Now that's a dude's dude.

Finally, I recently discovered a Greatest Hits collection on my boss's Itunes. I have long realized that Dancing in the Dark and Glory Days are jams (yet, amazingly, I hated those songs when I was a kid and had to listen for about 20 years before I came to that opinion). But this collection, coupled with my recent obsession with Steve Van Zandt (I am also a latecomer to the wonders of The Sopranos), I have discovered my new favorite jam, Hungry Heart, which has been pleasantly stuck in my head for the last week. And that's how I finally figured out that Bruce Springsteen rulz.

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