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A retraction

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Well they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night / now they blew up his house too / Down on the boardwalk they’re gettin’ ready for a fight / gonna see what them racket boys can do

I take it back, Bruce. I’ve written that I’ve outgrown your music. What nonsense.

I’ve written that your live show was getting long in the tooth. But that’s just me.

I’ve written that your latest album, The Rising, was mediocre. I dismissed it as a failure and politically vague. But your heart was in it.

You rock, Bruce. You walk Streets Of Fire. Dylan freed the mind; Springsteen freed the heart, someone said. But I see no reason to split it down the middle like that.

You’re an American treasure. I know that. I’ve always known it, despite my critical hubris. Blogger made me do it, Bruce.

Besides, I had to take down my idol.

The Rising is a good sight shy of your best work, that’s true, but we can’t be brilliant every time out of the gate.

Yet, I have this feeling that you’re gonna kick down the doors again, most likely with your next release. Certainly, the new message on your Web site is an encouraging sign:

The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about – namely freedom. Right now, we are supposedly fighting to create freedom in Iraq, at the same time that some are trying to intimidate and punish people for using that same freedom here at home.

I don’t know what happens next, but I do want to add my voice to those who think that the Dixie Chicks are getting a raw deal, and an un-American one to boot. I send them my support. (more)

Obviously, you too feel the chill wind Tim Robbins was talking about at the National Press Club.

“I don’t know what happens next.” Yeah, that’s it. Take that killer band of yours in the studio and find out.

You said it in 1984, “The times are tough now, just getting tougher. This old world is rough, it’s just getting rougher.” Lot of good lyrics on the Born in the U.S.A. album. Musically, to these ears it’s inert stadium rock/pop, so it’s not one of my favorites. But yeah, in today’s climate, you can easily “end up like a dog that’s been beat too much / Till you spend half your life just covering up.”

There were encouraging signs on your last effort. Mary’s Place in particular. “I’m pullin’ all the faith I can see / From that black hole on the horizon.” And you asked, you kept asking, “Tell me how do you get this thing started?”

Drop the needle, Bruce. I’ll say the prayer for all the long-gone daddys in the USA.

Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact / But maybe everything that dies someday comes back. ~ Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City

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About George Partington

  • http://highwater.blogspot.com George

    Shameful PC crapfest? the title is as charming as the attitude of moral superiority found in the article.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Yeah, yeah. I openly denounce Springsteen’s nonsense. But Springsteen and all the other good liberals are doing little but moral posturing themselves. It’s sure not like they’re actually doing anything to say, protect the country from terrorists.

    They don’t say that moral posturing is what they’re doing (Springsteen is SO above that), but really the point of all this is that they CARE more about the Little People- not like you evil right wingers. As Tom Lehrer [a good liberal himself] put it in the mouth of a member of the 60’s “Folk Song Army”: “We all hate poverty, war and injustice, unlike the rest of you squares.”

    The fact that all their years of caring left the Iraqi people tortured under Hussein’s boot, and a few weeks of Dubya kicking ass and taking names has lifted that yoke- that counts for nothing to many “caring” liberals.

    Leaving all that aside, you might consider my “Criticism 101″ entry, and my remarks there about separating your judgment of art and politics. In this “Retraction” post, you are basically saying that Springsteen’s music pretty much sucks even as far back as the sucky suckingness of the sucky Born in the USA album, but that you’re trying to talk yourself into liking it and The Rising because he’s expressing the correct liberal political views.

    Nor is his liberal posturing interesting. That is, even if you are in general agreement with his liberal political views, he has nothing new to contribute even lyrically. He has empathy for everyone, the victims, and even a suicide bomber. He feels all their pain. Yeah, yeah. Shut your pie-hole.

    Even if I were a liberal puke, I’d still tell you that The Rising just ain’t making it as music. No amount of proper political or social sentiment can make up for that. Whereas on the other hand, if he had a hot song, I’d be willing to overlook a lot of the political foolishness.

    Come back Bruce when you’ve got a real song, and I’ll listen.

  • mike

    Ya sure as shootin’ right, Al. That Springstein’s a member of the Eastern Jewish liberal conspiracy that’s infestin’ our land like a plague a’ locusts at harvestin’ time. I’d say round em all up but that’s not politically correct these days.

    What? Springsteen’s not Jewish? What is he, Muslim? Italian? Don’t tell me he’s a towelhead or a wop, that would just break my heart. I’m a Irish redneck myself. Most patriotic group of Americans there is, ever since we took out the Ku Klux Klan in the Battle of the Roses.

    Well, my kid just got back from the Army, where he wuz helpin’ liberate Iraq from…Iraq. Wait, that don’t make no sense……

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Mike- That would be liberating Iraq from… a brutal dictator.

    You’re just making up some racial stuff to throw at me. You are basically LYING by doing so.

    Please come back when you want to engage in an honest discussion. Thank you.

  • mike

    Oh, Al, relax. Just goofin’ around with you. I thought only vegans were this humorless. Pass the humus!

  • http://highwater.blogspot.com George

    Crackin’ me up, Mike.

    Al, since you are so concerned about brutal dictators and the people of Iraq, and since you are apparently a take charge guy like Bush, I’m assuming that you have been trying to oust Saddam from Iraq since the early 1980s when he committed many of his worst attrocities, even though your government, headed by Ronald Reagan, would have done everything it could to stop you, seeing as how it was a great friend to Saddam.

  • http://highwater.blogspot.com George

    Al, freedom of expression is not a “correct liberal view,” it’s an American value. We could all learn from the Dixie Chicks’ comment at their recent concert when some in the audience booed: ya’ll go ahead and boo. We support you’re right to do so.

    That same attitude turned toward the Dixie Chicks would be refreshing.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Mike- The “joke” there is not obvious to me. Now, my people are from Kentucky, so I might be a little slow on the uptake, but I see only a “humorous” smear. That’s a cute tactic. You get to make the accusation, but then if you get called on it you don’t have to defend it because you were “just joking.” Ha, ha.

    Oh, and George- It’s SO good to see someone who believes in freedom of expression. Do you get your strawmen wholesale? Nobody has said anything other than that they have a right to speak.

    Freedom of expression also includes my right to say that Springsteen and the Dixie Chicks of full of it. Duh. It’s freedom of expression, not freedom from criticism.

    The Dixie Chicks are far less egregious. Maines said a stupid comment off the cuff, as is her right. Then I cussed her a little in response, and I was good and done with it.

    I would never buy tickets to someone’s show for the purpose of going to boo them. That’s just petty.

    Furthermore, I’m coming around on the Dixie Chicks. I’m perfectly happy to hear the girls say pretty much any kind of stupid crap- if they’re going to justify it with more naked lesbo photo shoots.

    Yes, it was a mistake for our government ever to have supported Hussein at all, though liberals are way overstating the extent of that support. What, you’re supporting Hussein now because the Republicans did twenty years ago?

    Further, I don’t find a life-long revolutionary commitment to toppling Hussein a necessary requirement to believing that he had to go. Further, the fact that the US government was supporting Hussein at one time made it just that much more our responsibility to come clean up the mess.

    And Springsteen’s goddam 9/11 exploitation album continues to suck, as you yourself say in this post.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    so, tell us al…how is The Rising a ‘9/11 expoitation album?

    other than you repeating it over and over again.

    site specific lyrics. ya, we know you hate springsteen now. so what.

  • http://highwater.blogspot.com George

    Al, it’s not all about you. I knew I should have spelled it out for you, but this is tiresome enough as it is.

    This post, in part, is about the chilling of freedom of expression exhibited in the organized attack designed to hurt the Dixie Chicks, and about Springsteen using his public forum to state *his* view (not a “liberal” view, although I understand your need to throw the term around so you can direct your hate at an entire group of people)of what is a disturbing trend in this country.

    I’m supporting Hussein now? Talk about straw men, Al. I was just wondering, with the remark about the gov.’s one-time support for Hussein (a “mistake,” ha, that’s a good one) if you’ve thought about why you should be so suddenly concerned about the brutal dictator of Iraq. Is is because our politicians have used the media so well to tell you to hate Saddam (not that being against brutal dictators is wrong. Who isn’t?) just as they tell us to hate liberals? And don’t tell me it’s WMD, cause I don’t need any more laughs today. Ah go ahead, tell me it’s “liberation” you so crave for everyday Iraqis.

    Read the Project for the New American Century, cause that’s the plan we’re following. It’s called imperialism. If you’re for it, so be it. I’m not. But that’s the debate that should be taking place, not this bullshit about the Dixie Chicks saying something critical about Bush.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Mark- You’re right. It takes more than repeating the word “exploitation” a few times to make a case. I make my argument about Springsteen’s album being expoitative in the “shameful pc crapfest” review pinged above. Short version is that it all comes off like a politician’s forced empathy. At any moment on stage at this point I’m about half expecting Bruce to start chewing his lower lip and telling us that he feels our pain.

    However, while I do find his political strategy here annoying, that is still not my main complaint with the album. My main complaint is that the album is absolutely not up to snuff on a musical level. The songs lack interesting melodies, the whole production sounds tired and rote.

    Again, see that review for the whole critique.

  • Eric Olsen

    Um, guys, it’s funny how the elements of this discussion mutate from post to post but the central disputes remain the same. Back to Bruce – I love Bruce like a cousin but it is not unconditional: The Rising just isn’t that good. Al is right about separating music and politics. I don’t care about the “exploitational” angle, or the PC angle or really anything else – if the songs are there, everything else seems to fall into place.

    I disagree about other elements of the Bruce critique here: I love Born in the USA, although the title song gets on my nerves, but the rest of it is chock full o’ great, memorable tunes. Same with The River (would have made a momumental single album, is a little thin as a double) and everything before it.

    Intentions don’t count for much – songs do.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    eric, i had the same opinion about The Rising when i first bought it. but, like a lot of recordings, all of it came alive after attending one of the show from the current tour.

    as for Born in the USA, i’ve never been all that hot on that song. in fact, i saw a show up in albany a couple of years ago and he did the ‘deconstructed’ version with only a slide guitar. the guy next to me was horrified: i heard him say “…that’s now how he’s gonna do that, is he?”. heh…

  • Eric Olsen

    Mark, I didn’t see this tour live, but was really looking forward to seeing it “recorded live” on TV from Europe soon after the Grammys. I was terribly disappointed with that show for a variety of reasons, but on TV at least, none of The Rising material came alive for me. On the other hand, limiting Bruce to an hour, including commercials, was not the way to showcase him.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    it doesn’t surprise me that the show didn’t translate well to tv.

    gees, the highlight of the boston show came at the very end when Peter Wolf came out to help with a rendition of “Dirty Water”….to be standing there singing along with 20,000 other people was just way too much fun!