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george will on bruce

ElCee Dec 7, 2000 12:00 AM
Posted in group:
Here's that column I was thinking of.  My favorite part is-
"the recitation of closed factories and other problems
always seems punctuated by a grand, cheerful
affirmation: "Born in the U.S.A.!""  Tra la la la.

(I was also interested in the column from 1987 where Will
explains how AIDS can only be contracted by gays, and
is of no concern to the rest of the population, but I didn't
want to spend $1.50 to see it.)

Bruce Springsteen's U.S.A.

By George F. Will
Thursday, September 13, 1984 ; Page A19
What I did on my summer vacation:

My friend Bruce Springsteen . . .

Okay, he's only my acquaintance, but my children now think I am a
person. I met him because his colleague Max Weinberg and Max's
wife Rebecca
invited me to enjoy Max's work, which I did. He plays drums for
who plays rock and roll for purists, of whom there are lots. For
10 shows in
New Jersey, he recently sold 16,000 $16 tickets in the first
hour, all
202,000 in a day. His albums can sell 1 million copies on the
first day of

There is not a smidgen of androgyny in Springsteen, who,
rocketing around
the stage in a T-shirt and headband, resembles Robert DeNiro in
the combat
scenes of "The Deerhunter." This is rock for the United
accompanied by the opening barrage the battle of the Somme. The
Rebecca met me with a small pouch of cotton -- for my ears, she
She thinks I am a poor specimen, I thought. I made it three beats
into the
first number before packing my ears.

I may be the only 43-year-old American so out of the swim that I
do not even
know what marijuana smoke smells like. Perhaps at the concert I
surrounded by controlled substances. Certainly I was surrounded
by orderly
young adults earnestly -- and correctly -- insisting that
Springsteen is a
wholesome cultural portent.

For the uninitiated, the sensory blitzkrieg of a Springsteen
concert is
stunning. For the initiated, which included most of the 20,000
the night I
experienced him, the lyrics, believe it or not, are most

Today, "values" are all the rage, with political candidates
claiming to have
backpacks stuffed full of them. Springsteen's fans say his
message affirms
the right values. Certainly his manner does.

Many of his fans regarded me as exotic fauna at the concert (a
bow tie and
double-breasted blazer is not the dress code) and undertook to
instruct me.
A typical tutorial went like this:

Me: "What do you like about him?"

Male fan: "He sings about faith and traditional values."

Male fan's female friend, dryly: "And cars and girls."

Male fan: "No, no, it's about community and roots and
perseverance and

She: "And cars and girls."

Let's not quibble. Cars and girls are American values, and this
lyric surely
expresses some elemental American sentiment: "Now mister the day
my number
comes in I ain't never gonna ride in no used car again."

Springsteen, a product of industrial New Jersey, is called the
troubadour." But if this is the class struggle, its anthem -- its
"Internationale" -- is the song that provides the title for his
worldwide tour: "Born in the U.S.A."

I have not got a clue about Springsteen's politics, if any, but
flags get
waved at his concerts while he sings songs about hard times. He
is no whiner,
and the recitation of closed factories and other problems always
punctuated by a grand, cheerful affirmation: "Born in the

His songs, and the engaging homilies with which he introduces
them, tell
listeners to "downsize" their expectations -- his phrase,
borrowed from the
auto industry, naturally.

It is music for saying good-bye to Peter Pan: Life is real, life
is earnest,
life is a lot of work, but . . .

"Friday night's pay night, guys fresh out of work/Talking about
the weekend,
scrubbing off the dirt. . ./In my head I keep a picture of a
pretty little
miss/Someday mister I'm gonna lead a better life than this."

An evening with Springsteen -- an evening tends to wash over into
the a.m.,
the concerts lasting four hours -- is vivid proof that the work
ethic is
alive and well. Backstage there hovers the odor of Ben-Gay:
Springsteen is
an athlete draining himself for every audience.

But, then, consider Max Weinberg's bandaged fingers. The rigors
of drumming
have led to five tendinitis operations. He soaks his hands in hot
before a concert, in ice afterward, and sleeps with tight gloves
on. Yes, of
course, the whole E Street Band is making enough money to ease
the pain. But
they are not charging as much as they could, and the customers
are happy.
How many American businesses can say that?

If all Americans -- in labor and management, who make steel or
cars or shoes
or textiles -- made their products with as much energy and
confidence as
Springsteen and his merry band make music, there would be no need
Congress to be thinking about protectionism. No "domestic
legislation is needed in the music industry. The British and
other invasions
have been met and matched.

In an age of lackadaisical effort and slipshod products, anyone
who does
anything -- anything legal -- conspicuously well and with zest is
a national
asset. Springsteen's tour is hard, honest work and evidence of
astonishing vitality of America's regions and generations. They
distinctive tones of voice that other regions and generations
embrace. There
still is nothing quite like being born in the U.S.A.