Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 23, 2009
POP CULTURE: "The Most Important Instrument"

I don't read interviews with Bruce Springsteen all that much anymore - although Bruce's music is still mostly only vaguely political, as I discussed at some length back in 2002, in recent years he's gotten sufficiently actively partisan that I prefer to just listen to the music and tune out the politics. But this interview has some telling (if in a few places overly grandiose) musings on the thing that - other than the music itself - I've always loved and admired about the Boss, and that's the fact that the man truly gives a damn about connecting with his audience, and works at it, which is why he remains the best live showman in the business:

The idea of a show was delegitamised [in the late 60s] through that bohemian notion of selling out, which I always felt was somewhat misguided. Because once you're onstage, you're in a show, my friend, whatever you're doing. There's certain kinds of people I wouldn't want to see put on my show, because it's not who they are. But the idea - and it remains a good one, and a bridge to your audience - was putting on a show with the intent of reaching a deeper level of communication and getting at a deeper truth.


An excited audience is an exciting audience. The audience is a very decisive factor in our show. It is a place of communion, that's the point. You are in concert, truly, with the audience - they're the other instrument you're playing. That's something I've learned and studied since I was very young from the very first band I was in, The Castilles. It's a survival mechanism. We played to all kinds of audiences - supermarket openings, drive-ins, to all black audiences, to all rocker audiences ... And we knew how to survive in each situation by reading that audience and, within the realm of what you wanted to do, reaching them. So I go out at night, I know everything I can know about the instruments I have onstage. I go out every night cold about the most important instrument - the audience. It makes it interesting.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:48 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

How can you separate Springsteen the singer from Springsteen the political activist? Over the last three years he's demonstrated time and time again that his principles and integrity are completely subservient to his politics. If a Republican is in the White House then everything he does is either illegal or incompetent. If a Democrat does the same things or worse it's not worth mentioning.

Ya, this kind if hypocrisy is a dime a dozen in political circles. But Springsteen's career is built on the foundation of his integrity, more so than any other popular artist of our time. If that supposed integrity has always been a facade to be discarded or altered depending on political convenience then he's really just an actor playing a role. He writes this or sings that, but every word is as false in a real world sense as anything Arnold Schwarzenegger ever grunted on screen.

Springsteen will sing about the plight of illegals dying in our deserts, but in reality he doesn't give a shit about them except for how their suffering advances his politics. He spends two years railing against "illegal" wiretapping and rendition and terrorists being denied habeas corpus ...... until Obama does it too, and then all those life and death issues are never to be brought up again -- until the GOP gets back in power.

For a long time one of Springsteen's funniest on stage shticks was the preacher man tempted by money and the flesh who's devotion to God was all an act designed to make him rich. Funny, but in the end Springsteen became that preacher man pretending to worship and promote the all American everyman who goes to work every day and takes care of his family with dignity. It's an act that made him damn near a billionaire, but it's still an act.

Posted by: ShoelesJoe at June 24, 2009 1:07 AM
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