Wednesday, August 18, 2004 An Interview with Bruce Springsteen Springsteen Newsafter the Democratic National Convention ended, Bruce Springsteen spoke with Backstreets by phone about the state of the nation, his motivations behind these concerts, misinterpretation of his songs, and how activism affects the artist/audience bond.

Backstreets: You've supported a lot of causes over the years, but as political and socially conscious as a lot of your work has been, this is the first time you've really weighed in on electoral politics. So I guess the big question is, why now?

Bruce Springsteen: Basically, this is probably the most important election of my lifetime. I think that the government has drifted too far from American values. After 9/11, I was like everybody else -- I supported going into Afghanistan, and I felt tremendous unity in the country that I don't think I've ever felt exactly like that before. It was a moment of great sadness, but also tremendous possibility. And I think that was dashed when we jumped headlong into the Iraq war, which I never understood, and I talked about that on the road. I never understood how or why we really ended up there. We offered up the lives of the best of our young people under circumstances that have been discredited. I had to live through that when I was young myself, and for any of us that lived through the Vietnam War, it was just very devastating.

Along with that, the deficits, the squeezing of services like the after-school services for the kids who need it the most, the big windfall tax cuts, the division of wealth that has threatened our connection to one another over the past 20 years that is increasing.... these are things that as the election time neared -- I couldn't really keep true to the ideas that I'd written about for 30 years without weighing in on this one.

I don't think I've seen anything like it before in my lifetime. I think that the freedoms that we've taken for granted -- I spoke about this on the road a little bit, too -- they are slowly being eroded. In the past I've gotten involved in a lot of grassroots organizations that sort of expressed my views, and where I thought I could be of some small help. I guess I’ve been doing that for about 20 years, and that was a way that I was very happy to work. I always believed that it was good for the artist to remain distant from the seat of power, to retain your independent voice, and that was the way I liked to conduct my work. But the stakes in this one are just too high. I felt like, given what I've written about, the things that I've wanted our band to stand for over the years, it's just too big a battle to lay out of."

By Christopher Phillips
Backstreets Editor


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