Pullin’ out of here to win

Pullin’ out of here to win August 5, 2004

I'm from New Jersey, so I pretty much have to link to this — Bruce Springsteen's New York Times op-ed:

… for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out. …

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."

… 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.

This is going to get interesting.

Bruce Springsteen is a bigger star than John Kerry. That's significant not just in terms of celebrity and star power, but because most Americans already have a good idea who this man is and whose side he's always been on. The Rovian hate machine is going to have a hard time portraying him as an America-hating, socialist, francophile enemy of family values.

David Segal, in The Washington Post, has more details about Bruce & Co.'s entry into the fray:

Performers on the "Vote for Change Tour" will work together in several multi-artist mini-tours that will travel around the country simultaneously. Springsteen, for instance, will headline a bill with an undercard featuring R.E.M., John Fogerty and an indie band called Bright Eyes. The Dave Matthews Band, Jurassic 5 and My Morning Jacket will team up; the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor will work together; a group called Death Cab for Cutie will open for Pearl Jam; Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Keb' Mo will tour together, as will John Mellencamp and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds.

(More details on the tour here.)

The concerts themselves will have an impact, but the larger effect will be the interviews and the media buzz surrounding those concerts. This is going to get really interesting.

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9 responses to “Pullin’ out of here to win”

  1. Typically when a star outs himself as a liberal, the Freeper horde goes into boycott mode but there are too many this time and the names are too big for that tactic to work. They won’t be able to do to Bruce Springsteen what they did to the Dixie Chicks.

  2. I’d advise caution before reading too much into the ultimate impact of these celebrity musician endorsements. Naturally I’m glad to see the additional support/coverage, but I’m old enough to remember the ’60’s (and the ’80’s for that matter), when it seemed that no concert/album release/interview occured in any but a heavily politicized context. And, standing out in the sea of concert-goers, being uplifted by the power of the music and the togetherness, it seemed like nothing could withstand such positive energy. But guess what? Withstand it did. Nixon took his damn sweet time getting out of Viet Nam, and Reagan installed the Pershing missiles in Europe despite all of our singing and BIC-holding.
    Anyhow, like I said, Yay! that we have another eloquent, recognizable element on the team, but Boo! that we still have the Death Star to contend with — and they won’t go easily.

  3. Melancamp and Babyface?
    Am I the only one who thinks that was the “leftovers” pairing?

  4. But the difference here is that most of these muscicians have not been overtly political. Their politics are usually clear, they have done social work, but they have never, to my knowledge, campaigned for an individual. Nor is the current culture one which expects artists to do so (which presumably was different in the ’60s). The potential for impact is greater. Further, the tours are very specifically organized to have the maximum impact. They are touring in the same battle ground states that the candidates themselves are in. In an election that promises to be as close as this one (might we fall within the margin of error again?) something like this could have a huge impact.
    And Melloncamp is not a leftover.

  5. And Mellencamp is not a leftover.
    Up heah in rural Maine, Mellencamp’s ‘Small Town’ is an anthem to this day — the kids may play Eminem or whatever in the parking lot, but they leave graduation every year with Mellencamp blasting on the speakers.
    Or Springsteen’s ‘Glory Days’.
    Youth is so conservative.

  6. The Rovian hate machine is going to have a hard time portraying him as an America-hating, socialist, francophile enemy of family values.
    Enh. I mean, he’ll be harder to smear than most artists, but Bruce took a big hit over the whole “41 Shots” thing. People have mostly forgotten that since The Rising, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it resurface.

  7. I always thought the “41 shots” thing was overblown–if you actually listen to the lyrics, which a number of people apparently did not manage to do–he acknowledges the difficulties that everyone faces/d, including police officers whose lives are also at stake. And he continues to play the song in concert. The more interesting case of (mis)interpretation has always been “Born in the USA,” however; one of the few times he ever got specifically political before now was when Reagan tried to appropriate the song.

  8. I doubt this will have any impact, other than to remind me how not to spend my hard-earned money …

  9. “A group called Death Cab For Cutie”?
    I think it would be more appropriate to say “A guy called Keb’ Mo'”.