Bruce Springsteen is one of rock and roll's great poets. His songs are stories that use the mundane images and events in our lives to tell profound truths about ourselves. In the terms a twenty year old man would think, "She's The One" says that of all the things young men find attractive about women, humanity is often the least of them. "Born In The USA" tells the story of a blue collar guy who got into trouble, was sent to Vietnam, and then returned to find little in the way of help or employment to illustrate how we treated both our returning veterans and our feelings about that war. Springsteen tells his stories using the simple language of rock. Rock and roll is no place for polysyllables, as nearly anyone but Neil Peart will tell you. For that reason, I think, there's a tendency among the faux-sophisticated to assume that Springsteen's songs are only about cars, girls, and rock and roll. If that's true, then opera is only about shrill fat women in helmets.
Taylor Marsh has the YouTube video and a description of Springsteen's appearance on the Today Show yesterday. In this song, the refrain of which is the title of this article, Springsteen uses the imagery of a fading relationship to symbolize our own fading relationship with our country, and our wish to forget the sins of the last few years and get back to being who we really are. In his introduction to the song, Springsteen says:
It's kinda about how the things we love about America - cheeseburgers, French fries, the Yankees battling Boston ... the Bill of Rights, trans fat and the Jersey Shore ... We love all those things ... But over the last six years we've had to add to the American picture rendition, illegal wiretapping, voter suppression, no habeas corpus, the neglect of our great city New Orleans and the people, and an attack on the Constitution, and the loss of our best young men and women in a tragic war. This is a song about things that shouldn't happen here happening here." And so right now we plan to do something about it, we plan to sing about it. I know it's early but it's late so come and join us.
[h/t Taylor Marsh, who transcribed much of this]
It's a speech, which is often a tiresome thing at a rock concert, but songs and the occasional line in a TV show is the only way we get to explain what's happening in this country nowadays. Do you think neocon spokesmodel Matt Lauer will be chatting with anyone who talks about these things? Not bloody likely.
And it's a Springsteen kind of speech, which sure beats a stammering, nonsensical George W. Bush speech any day.
UPDATE (Oct. 3): Here's a link to the lyrics of "Livin' In The Future".