Bruce Springsteen has written an eloquent statement, Chords for Change, in the New York Times explaining why he has abandoned his former stance against partisan electioneering to join scores of other rock musicians for a Swing State concert tour in the weeks leading up to the presidential election.
In the past, I can remember the Reagan campaign appropriating Born in the USA and distorting the song’s meaning by turning it into a flag-waving patriotic anthem (read the lyrics or listen to Bruce’s acoustic version on his last album and you’ll find the song is exactly the opposite). Other than a statement saying he hadn’t authorized the campaign to use his music, he hardly said anything. Sure, he held concerts in which he all but said he despised Republican politics. But he was never explicit and certainly never explicit in the context of a presidential campaign.
I’m tremendously pleased to read Springsteen’s passionate and poetic call to arms for artists to unite to unseat George Bush:
Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out…
People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I’ve tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.
Springsteen also sat for an interview with Ted Koppel that was broadcast on Nightline. ABC News has provided a partial transcript of the interview. It was an extraordinary exchange between two people who clearly admire each other and challenge each other intellectually.
The Vote for Change tour is co-sponsored by MoveOn PAC and America Coming Together (ACT). If you’re lucky enough to live in a Swing State, I hope you have an opportunity to witness this extraordinary political and musical event. You may read the Artists Declaration of their principles in organizing this effort.
Springsteen’s closing paragraph is surprisingly, deeply spiritual and presents his efforts to seek political change in a touchingly delicate fashion:
It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities – respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals – that we come to life in God’s eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.
Who can describe it better?