Saturday, April 4, 2009

"A band built for hard times"

This morning I read a Sunday Los Angeles Times interview of my favorite musician, Bruce Springsteen. (Yes, it's only Saturday, but the interview's already on the LA Times web site and posted to Springsteen fan sites.) At the beginning of the interview, he calls the E Street Band "a band built for hard times."

As I, a longtime fan who would be the first to tell you that they have just started a new world tour, would tell you, Bruce and the E Street Band are an excellent act for anytime. Unfortunately, they're not coming to my hometown this leg of the tour. He did say during his Super Bowl press conference that they are coming to this part of the Midwest, so I remain hopeful.

In this interview, Springsteen makes the case that the E Street Band is an excellent band for these hard economic times. Yes, Springsteen may now be a rich rock star, and he knows he is.

However, Springsteen grew up in working class New Jersey. Many of his best songs were written during the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s. His lyrics are full of people looking for work, people losing work, people coping with hard, terrible jobs.

Allow me to quote some:

Atlantic City: "Now I been lookin' for a job but it's hard to find. Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line."

Johnny 99: "Well they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late last month. Ralph went out lookin' for a job but he couldn't find none. He came home too drunk from mixin' Tanqueray and wine. He got a gun, shot a night clerk, now they call him Johnny 99."

Born in the U.S.A.: "Come back home to the refinery. Hiring man said 'Son if it were up to me.'"

The River: "I got a job working construction for the Johnston Company. But lately there ain't been much work. On account of the economy."

The Ghost of Tom Joad: "Familes sleepin' in their cars in the Southwest. No home, no job, no peace, no rest." A nineties retelling of "The Grapes of Wrath," set to music.

Sherry Darling: "Your mama's yappin' in the backseat. Tell her to push over and move them big feet. Every Monday morning I gotta drive her down to the unemployment agency."

And finally, although I could go on, Factory: "Through the mansions of fear, through the mansions of pain, I see my daddy walking through the factory gates in the rain. Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life. The working, the working, just the working life."

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