On Wednesday I, and some 50,000 others, went along to Hampden Park to see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in concert. It probably says something about the current state of Scottish football that a musician from the USA attracts bigger crowds to the National Stadium than the Scotland team, but that’s another story.
They played an impressive set of near enough three and a half hours, which is not bad going when you consider that The Boss and band members like Nils Lofgren and Steve Van Zandt are all now in their mid 60s.
For me, one of Springsteen’s great strengths is that he articulates the issues and concerns affecting Blue Collar USA in a way which few other artists can manage. A classic example of this is The River, a song which perfectly outlines the tragedy and lost opportunity which can prevent so many people from achieving their “American Dream”.
Springsteen isn’t afraid to tackle some of the big issues affecting the USA, and elsewhere, which many other writers shy away from. For example, American Skin (41 shots) questions America’s deadly gun culture.
It’s hardly surprising that Barak Obama used The Rising, Springsteen’s tribute to those affected by the 9:11 tragedy, as his campaign anthem in 2008. I think that it’s probably fair to assume that Bruce won’t be voting for Trump.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent of The Boss on this side of the Atlantic. Probably the nearest we’ve had was the late Joe Strummer who covered similar territory in his days with The Clash. I think that Bono clearly sees himself in that category, but I can’t help feeling that the U2 frontman probably alienates as many people as he converts with his patronising and deadly serious sermonising.
Bruce Springsteen has perfected the art of getting his message across without making his audience feel that they’ve just been battered on the head with a copy of The Guardian. Bono would do well to take note.