But there is nothing daft or insouciant, nothing crazy free, about Springsteen’s exuberance anymore. The joy is programmatic; it is mere uplift, another expression of social responsibility, a further statement of an idealism that borders on illusion. The rising? Not quite yet. We take care of our own? No, we do not. Nothing has damaged Springsteen’s once-magnificent music more than his decision to become a spokesman for America.
Now: I love Bruce, I find Bruce intensely comforting because he was my father’s favorite human, and according to one (really apocryphal, probably made-up) family legend, my first word was “Bruce:” I could definitely recognize the man’s voice before the end of toddlerhood, and yes, you ARE welcome for that mental image of me as a toddler. But this is a good read. There’s a difference between idealism and hackwork, and this nails it. […]
I also love Springsteen, and I think this article more or less explains why his early music feels so much better than most of what he’s done lately (with the exception of The Promise, which was really from 1978 and which I may or may not be obnoxiously listening to on my balcony at this very moment). Relatedly, I also really hope he doesn’t start falling down the hole of Celebrity Op-Eds About The Issues of The Day, According To Wikipedia, since Springsteen turning into a Bono-esque spokesperson with too little substance and too many ellipses would be seriously disappointing.