Once Again, Bruce Springsteen Inspires Hope And Courage
Once again, as our nation deals with Trumpism, Bruce Springsteen’s poetry and prose can bring courage. When returning to the United States in 1982, I was stunned by the way the Reagan administration had sped up deindustrialization, expanded the arms race, escalated the dirty wars in Central America, and ignored the first signs of AIDS. My best friend had just bought Springsteen’s newly-released Nebraska but he had been waiting for just the right time to ceremoniously open the album and share the first-listen. Reassurance was found in his words, “Man turns his back on his brother, he’s no friend of mine.”
And, yes, the “Boss” continued to provide the wisdom and inspiration that helped guide us through Supply Side Economics, Iran-Contra, the crack and gang years, followed by the War on Drugs and, in general, Americans retreating from the values that had made our democracy great.
Years later, we were challenged and comforted by Springsteen’s “The Streets of Philadelphia,” “American Skin,” “The Rising,” and his recent incorporation of music that drew from Pete Seeger to Irish balladeers and New Orleans jazz to help us grapple with bigotry, the Iraq War, and Hurricane Katrina. As we come to grips with the Trump election, Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, may contain more insight into the roots of our political crisis than anything I’ve read.
Springsteen starts with the “Pax Americana” of the 1950s. Speaking for so many Baby Boomers, he begins his life story, “Here we live in the shadow of the steeple, where the holy rubber meets the road, all crookedly blessed in God’s mercy, in the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, race-riot-creating, oddball-hating, soul-shaking, love-and-fear-making town of Freehold, New Jersey.”
Working class kids (or, at least, white youth) during “the American Century” were “destined to live the decent hardworking lives of their parents ... if they could scoot through these years of wild pounding hormones without getting hurt or hurting someone else.” Bruce was acculturated into a value system where you “remain true to your crew, your blood, your family, your turf, your greaser brothers and sisters and your country. This was the shit that would get you by when all of the rest came tumbling down.”
However, Springsteen doesn’t romanticize the so-called “Greatest Generation.” Despite all of his family’s and neighbors’ strengths and the cross-cultural fertilization Once Again, Bruce Springsteen Inspires Hope And Courage | The Huffington Post - Linkis.com: