Springsteen: Silence Is Unpatriotic

Bruce Springsteen on 60 Minutes said what I believe is most important to me in these crazy, mad times. His understanding of what an artist should be is something which I hope all of us in the arts can appreciate.

“I guess I would say that what I do is I try to chart the distance between American ideals and American reality. That’s how my music is laid out. It’s like we’ve reached a point where it seems that we’re so intent on protecting ourselves that we’re willing to destroy the best parts of ourselves to do so,” Springsteen says.

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Asked what he means, Springsteen tells Pelley, “Well, I think that we’ve seen things happen over the past six years that I don’t think anybody ever thought they’d ever see in the United States. When people think of the American identity, they don’t think of torture. They don’t think of illegal wiretapping. They don’t think of voter suppression. They don’t think of no habeas corpus. No right to a lawyer … you know. Those are things that are anti-American.”

“You know, I think this record is going to be seen as anti-war. And you know there are people watching this interview who are going to say to themselves, ‘Bruce Springsteen is no patriot,'” Pelley remarks.

“Well, that’s just the language of the day, you know? The modus operandi for anybody who doesn’t like somebody, you know, criticizing where we’ve been or where we’re goin’,” Springsteen says. “It’s unpatriotic at any given moment to sit back and let things pass that are damaging to some place that you love so dearly. And that has given me so much. And that I believe in, I still feel and see us as a beacon of hope and possibility.”

It’s hard to imagine, but Bruce Springsteen turned 58 last year. His breakout hit, “Born to Run,” is 32 years old. While rock stars his age are content to tour with their greatest hits, Springsteen launched what may become his most controversial work ever as a songwriter.

Even now, Springsteen is an artist in progress, having moved from stories about girls and cars to populist ballads that echo the dust bowl days of Woody Guthrie. Springsteen has put all that together now in his first tour with the E Street Band in four years. As correspondent Scott Pelley first reported last fall, he has returned to full-throated rock and roll, and a message that’s sharper than ever, damning the war in Iraq, and questioning whether America has lost its way at home.

“You have got to be, wild guess, worth somewhere north of 100 million dollars. Why are you still touring? You don’t have to do this,” Pelley remarks.

“What else would I do? You got any clues?” Springsteen asks. “Got any suggestions? I mean, am I going to garden? Why would you stop. I mean, you play the music and you know, grown men cry. And women dance. That’s why you do it.”

“I guess I would say that what I do is I try to chart the distance between American ideals and American reality. That’s how my music is laid out. It’s like we’ve reached a point where it seems that we’re so intent on protecting ourselves that we’re willing to destroy the best parts of ourselves to do so,” Springsteen says.

Asked what he means, Springsteen tells Pelley, “Well, I think that we’ve seen things happen over the past six years that I don’t think anybody ever thought they’d ever see in the United States. When people think of the American identity, they don’t think of torture. They don’t think of illegal wiretapping. They don’t think of voter suppression. They don’t think of no habeas corpus. No right to a lawyer … you know. Those are things that are anti-American.”

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  1. I was never a big Springsteen fan until I saw him sing “Philadelphia” on the Academy Awards. What a great artist, songwriter, human being.

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