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Occupy E Street
Bruce and the gang have just unleashed what is their angriest and most politicised record yet, a scathing attack on the railroading of the American Dream by political and corporate fat cats. Stuart Clark journeys to Paris to meet The Boss who also waxes lyrical about Obama, Catholicism, Joe Strummer, Dylan, being a hopeless music fan and why it’ll take four people to replace Clarence Clemons
Stuart Clark, 20 Mar 2012
Has he ever thought of running for office himself, asks an earnest Norwegian lady.
“I’d never be a politician,” Bruce states. “I just don’t have the skills. Everything that I’ve studied has been about learning how to do my job as a musician and to try and understand the arc of my life and my family’s life. I have no interest in any other job really and I have no other skills whatsoever. I’m hoping to continue doing what I do for as long as I can.”
Springsteen’s trumpeting of Obama couldn’t have been any more public – he ended up playing half-a-dozen voter registration gigs – but a lot of his activism is under the radar.
“There’d be organisations in every city and in my local area that we’ve worked with for 25, 30 years,” he explains. “You have to remain alert and constantly interested in listening to what’s going on every day. You have to be interested in life, awake and listening. I write in the same way that you’re hungry for food. That’s the writing impulse. It’s the same as the hunger for sex. It’s not one that’s related to commercial fortunes. I’m glad they’re paying me but I’d do it for free. Tom Stoppard, the playwright, once said he was envious of Václav Havel because he had so much to push up against and he wrote so beautifully. I’d prefer to stay out of prison if I can, but I know what he was talking about. You tend to do your best work when you’re up against something.”
There must be times when being the spokesperson for a generation weighs heavily on the Springsteen-ian shoulders.
“Actually, I’m terribly burdened, and at night when I’m sleeping in my big house, it’s killing me,” he deadpans. “It’s a rough life. It’s brutal, brutal, brutal! No, it’s a blessed life. These are just things I’m interested in having a conversation with my audience about. I enjoyed artists when I was young who one way or another tried to take on the world – for better or worse, you know? And artists who were involved in the events of the day as well as entertaining people. I have a big audience that’s filled with Democrats and Republicans. I’ve got people who come to dance and enjoy themselves and people who are interested in the social aspects of what I’m writing about and I’ve really just enjoyed it all. If I have something to say at any given time I can write a song about it.