Thursday, October 18, 2007

Should the Boss just shut up and sing?

I think so.

I have a friend, a frequenter of this blog, who is a big fan of Bruce Springsteen’s music. He isn’t, however, a big fan of Bruce’s particular brand of politics. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except that he, Bruce, has become quite vocal about expressing his various points-of-view. So along with stories of Mary cross the Jersey shore, a Springsteen concert-goer must also be up for some progressive lecturing.

I can understand how Bruce came to this point. After millions of Americans misinterpreted the lyrics to Born in the U.S.A. and reacted as if it was a flag-waving anthem, he probably felt that in order to articulate his message more clearly, he would have to spell it out between songs so that it doesn’t get lost amidst a wailing saxophone solo.

But somewhere along the way to superstardom, Bruce has forgotten why people line up to see him. His fans don’t buy his albums and attend his concerts because they feel that his music will lead to a shift in the political landscape that will in turn evoke positive changes to our society. No, they do so because they feel that his music rocks and they like to be rocked or in some other way emotionally moved by the sounds emanating from the stage.

It’s good that musicians aren’t apathetic to the issues of the day and they have just as much right to let their views be known as anyone else. But they must remember that the stage isn’t a soapbox and that they didn’t earn their place on that stage because of their astute political musings.

I’m sure none of us would appreciate it if, during a routine physical, the doctor changed the topic of conversation from our health to her views on the environment. Even if we agree with those views, we’re paying her to find out if our 245 mg/dL cholesterol level means that we’ll have to cut down on buttered bacon nachos, not to learn the effect the Kyoto agreement will have on third world economies.

Yet more and more entertainers feel that, for the right to pay $100 for their concert ticket, we are obliged to listen to them offer up political slogans while the guitarist takes a moment to strap on the double-neck Stratocaster.

Pity the meat-eschewing metalhead who just once would like to hear Wango Tango live without being emasculated by Uncle Ted’s carnivorous rants. And, at the other end of the tract, I’m sure that many a rancher have been left weeping at a Smith’s concert by Morrissey’s none-too-subtle suggestion that meat is murder.

Musicians have always pandered to their audiences, usually by offering up a crowd pleasing, profanity-accented tribute to their hometown. While “Bush sucks!” is a fairly widespread sentiment, it’s not universal. So why would someone want to offend or irritate one of their fans over an issue that isn’t even relevant to the occasion at hand?

Granted there are exceptions. If you go to an Earth Day concert or see Steve Earle while he’s supporting one of his protest albums, then you should expect to get a heavy dose of ideological dialogue. Even then, to most in attendence it’s still about the music, not rocking the vote.

Whatever Bruce aspires to be, to his audience he’s the guy who sings some of their favorite songs. That’s a pretty good gig. He shouldn’t jeopardize it by playing political pundit while he’s on the audience’s dime.


The Bosses' Boss said...

Couldn't agree more Daniel. I don't even like it when they alter their songs from the original format. Just when you are ready to hear your favorite song they decide to do it unplugged????

I'm not sure if this is a good trait or not but when someone angers me with their silly politics or selfish ways I go out of my way to exact what small revenge I can muster up. Case in point; I refused to see "Meet the Fokkers" because Barbara Streisand was in it. I really enjoyed "Meet the Parents" and if a normal actress who knew how to keep their traps shut was in it I would have gladly given my money to them. Does it hurt Barbara? Doubtful, although I would love to see a poll of those who felt the same way and how much money was lost due to such a stance.

On a somewhat related note is pro baseball. After the last strike I threw in the towel. The only games I have attended since are ones I received free tickets to. I can't justify giving more of my hard earned money to the already filthy rich especially when greed is involved.

nancy said...

I couldn't disagree more.

While I abhor the over-use of the word "artist" (almost as much as I hate those who practice a "craft"), musicians really are artists and expressing themselves through music and lyrics is what they do. I believe that for a very large number of musisicians, especially in today's climate, politics and world issues make up a large part of their influences.

Dan, I think you brought up a good point about the misinterpretation of Springsteen's "Born in the USA". I think maybe Green Day feels the same way about the "time of your life" song (can't remember the title right now -"Turnaround"?). Because musicians express themselves through lyrics, it must be frustrating to have them philosophically bastardized.

It is incredibly selfish to suggest that a musician or actor not bother you with their politics. Unlike, say a governement funded institution of higher learning, musicians and actors are only beholden to themselves and the image they want to project. Hell, if the Boss wants to go onstage with an inauthentic headdress and war paint and leap around like an idiot, more power to him. Like the previous poster suggests, you can choose not to go and not to support that artist through withholding your buying power.

I don't think the physician analogy works as well. The "job" of a musician at a concert is a little more vague. What might not be entertaining to you might be to the person moshing next to you.

What's your take on musicians using their positions to advocate for personal charities while on the concert stage?

That $100 ticket that you referred to doesn't "oblige" the ticket holder to anything. Either don't put out, or get in the beer line during soapbox time.

As for acoustic or altered versions of songs at, why would you even want to go to a live show if what you're after is the consistent recorded versions available on your iPod?

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


Of course musicians should be "expressing themselves through music and lyrics." Many of rock's greatest songs contain a political or social message. I just don't like to be lectured to between songs, whether I agree with the message or not.

I'm also not saying that musicians don't have the right to give their political opinions, just like your waitress has the right to tell you her views on evolution before she gets around to the daily specials. I am saying that in both instances, it can be bad for business.

An artist works for himself when he's creating his art, but does he not have some obligation to his fans when they have paid money to hear him? If Bruce decided to give the band the night off and recite spoken-word screeds against the government, would it be selfish of the audience not to appreciate his performance?

I imagine you would be put off if you went to see some new band that you liked, only to find out that in concert they are outspoken critics of gay marriage. I would be as well. That wouldn't mean that their music then all-of-the-sudden sucks. But their soapboxing would put a damper on things.

I've learned long ago that you have to separate the art from the artist (Woody Allen helped drive home that need when he married his adopted daughter.) But I think that artists need to help us do that by not taking advantage of the spotlight they've been given for their work, and using it to shine a light on their personal political views.

As for BB's dislike for bands that muck around with their songs in concert, I'm a bit torn on this issue.

I agree that if every song were a note-for-note reproduction of the studio cut, then a concert would feel sterile.

On the other hand, even though I'm not a fan, I can imagine how someone who waited their whole life to see Eric Clapton live and then showed up on the night he first decided to do Layla at a dirge-like tempo would be a tad disappointed.

I'm sure musicians get bored playing the same songs the same way every night, but as with the previous issue, they do have a responsibility to their fans, not just to their creative selves.

Thanks for commenting,

Dave H said...

Dan, I have always tried to separate The Boss from his politics. He wasn't always so vocal. His music always struck a chord with me since high school. I guess it was just the picturesque visions in his lyrics that I identified with. I never really noticed any agenda until the last couple of albums.

I do think he is a true believer in what he says but at the same time I think he is misinformed. To paint a broad stroke by saying that we are torturers and that we tap everyones phone and that Bush is evil just really sours me.

I would have much more respect in his opinions if he were to take O'Reilly's challenge or anyone elses who is going to ask hard questions, and debate some of those issues just to see how informed he really is or if he is just another leftist cool-aid drinker. Other than that I really like some of the songs on his new album ( I downloaded it from a Russian web site for $2.50). My days of spending $100 for a concert ticket are over for Bruce.

I do thank him and his music for being a friend to me for many years. The guy truly is a living legend that never overdosed or choked on his own vomit and I respect that.


nancy said...


I still respectfully disagree. Let the market decide. If the waitress waxes on about evolution too much, her tip intake might suffer, or the owners can let her go for poor performance. A creationist customer may choose never to return.

Same is true of Springsteen. Perhaps if enough fans really didn't want to hear his political ramblings, they'd stop going. If at some point he decides it's not worth it, maybe he'll stop. I don't think just because you purchase a ticket to a concert, you purchase the right to censor what is or isn't said by the artist.

Most of the time, I think we know who's going to spout off and who isn't. Buyer beware.

It seems boy bands might be just the thing for people who want no thoughtful talking between songs and performances lip synched to the album they have at home.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


Censoring? I don’t recall anyone saying that the government should put a muzzle on the Boss. I agree that the market should decide these things. Mel Gibson and the Dixie Chicks have both been affected because they’ve taken advantage of their position as entertainers to expound on their political views.

It comes down to this. Bruce’s political viewpoints are no more important than mine or yours. But because he takes the stage in front of thousands of people, a position he earned based on his music, his viewpoints take on a greater weight in relation to their worth.

To me, it’s not the espousing of certain political views that is distasteful, it’s the notion that because someone is a celebrity, we should be interested in them even when they decide to venture beyond their field of expertise. I don’t like it when actors get record contracts, rappers get movie roles, or politicians host Saturday Night Live, if the only reason is because they’re famous, not because they have an aptitude that would merit such consideration.

And I agree with Dave H. I don’t much care for Bill O’Reilly, but if Bruce feels that it his duty to enlighten the world with his political views, then he should open those views to debate, not simply cant them to a captive audience.

Thanks for commenting,

The Bosses' Boss said...

Yes Nancy, the artists certainly can say what they want and the ticketholder can do nothing about it for 2 or 3 hours. And the ticketholder can respond by not going again. That is not the point.

What I think Dan is basically saying is that the artist had better be careful doing that, lest he soon has no audience to spout off to. I doubt it would ruin Dan's month if the Boss was no longer selling out the Enormodome but is settling for a 8,000 seat concrete and metal building.

He is also not talking about lyrics, he is talking about in-between song banter/political views. I know when I buy a ticket to my favorite artist's show that I am subject to hearing the lyrics of his/her music but I don't want to be blind-sided by their non-musical rants. If I want that I will watch C-Span.

Kind of like if you went to a U of I game last year you knew at halftime you would see a symbol of a proud and noble tribe dance around to entertain the fans. So if the ticketholder didn't want to see that, and was bothered by it, he/she could have abstained and stayed at home or got into the Coca-cola line at halftime. Conversely, after the bleeding-hearts ruined that tradition, (and aren't we all just breathing a sigh of relief that the dastardly "Chief" is out of our lives. We can now move on and live in peace) if you went to a U of I game now and all of a sudden the "Chief" re-appeared you would have a right to be appalled as that is not what you expected when you bought your ticket.

nancy said...

I knew I was going to get nailed on the censoring thing. You're right. I'm wrong.

I whole heartedly disagree that celebrities have to take a pass on political or social expression because that's not what we love them for. Good thing for Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Fred Thompson that others are more tolerant of letting actors step outside their area of expertise.

I wonder if there's not a bit of overreaction here anyway. Is Bruce Springsteen using up most of his set spouting off about the war, or is he commenting between songs while the band's tuning up, replacing strings, etc? Better he should just keep his big trap shut? The audience would like that better?

Boss' Boss: perhaps you missed my connection to U of I. If Bruce Springsteen's concerts were funded by my tax dollars, yeah, stuff a sock in it and sing. It's completely different. You can choose to support him financially or not.

You say that artists "earned" a place on stage based on their music, but I think that's kind of shortsighted. Bands such as Rage Against the Machine have always been strong social observers, both lyrically and as commentators and I really believe most fans of any music know what they'll be getting when they go to a show.

You always take a risk buying a concert ticket: bad sound, obstructed view, sloppy drunks. It's the price you pay (literally and figuritively) to see musicians you like. Read some reviews beforehand and be an informed consumer. If political rants aren't your thing and will ruin the experience, don't go.

And one more thing. Like B's Boss said, artists should know that spouting off may lose them fans and decide if it's worth it. After that, it's survival of the fittest.

I'd even take ultra-coservative babble at a concert rather than a crappy opening act. Now there's some custom concert-making I could get behind.

B's.B. said...


You missed MY point about the "Chief." Let's assume tax-payer's money has nothing to do with this.

Hypothetically; if you purchased tickets for your children to an Illinois basketball game believing that all they would see is the wholesome entertainment that 5 guys in gym shorts can provide. But suddenly, without warning, the "Chief" appears and begins his famous dance. Now, you being on record of believing that the "Chief's" dance demeans Native Americans would probably not be happy that your children witnessed this act. The dance was something that you did not expect.........something you did not pay for. You thought your kids would see a basketball game not a unauthentic dance. Right?

So how is that different from someone like me paying to see an artist sing his/her songs but suddenly having to endure something that I abhor, such as political commentary? The "Chief" to some is a political statement.

Now, as you said, you can either choose not to attend the offending concert or go get a beer, or you can choose not to go to an Illini game or go get a Coke.

The comment on Arnold, Ronald, and Fred has nothing to do with what Dan was saying. He didn't say that Bruce could not become a politician. In fact Dave and Dan encouraged it by saying he should engage in debates on the issues. Just don't do it in the arena that is full of fans who expect to hear his music. This is all about what a reasonable person expects to happen at something they put a large amount of money out to see.

nancy said...

Sorry, no go. Taxpayer money has EVERYTHING to do with that scenario. I've been plenty offended at racist, sexist, homophobic content at movies and concerts, but that's the risk I take while lining the pockets of their private producers and I can protest by making smarter choices in the future. Supporting such stupidity at a taxpayer funded university is entirely different. I can't choose as a taxpayer to withold my personal taxes from such institutions.

The Bill O'Reilly "debate" argument cracks me up. As if he really debates. Simply by allowing another side to get two words in before hitting the mute button isn't exactly a debate.

There is so much more harm Bruce Springsteen and other musicians could do between songs than to talk politics. And if this blog is any indication, he's really not changing anyone's opinion anyway. At most he's pissing off some die-hard fans and maybe affecting his bottom line in a tiny way. So what? If enough people feel the way that your readers do, he'll get the message eventually. But I'll bet a lot of people who dislike his politics still buy his records anyway because it's his music they care about. Let the baby have his bottle.

Will said...

Born in the USA is a very political song. Anyone who goes to see Bruce in concert is hearing political messages whether Bruce talks in between the songs or not.

I think a lot of celebrities feel an obligation to use their special access to the media to speak out on issues that are otherwise ignored and/or censored by most of the media. Even when they do that they're still sometimes censored out, such as Pearl Jam getting their anti-Bush comments bleeped out at Lollapalooza.

Pearl Jam brought out a wounded Iraq Veteran onto stage who asked people to take action to stop the "criminal occupation" of Iraq. Maybe they wouldn't have to do things like that at concerts if you ever saw similar speeches in the news media or on talk shows.

Personally, I'm more likely to go to a concert or buy a bands CD if I know they're expressing political views I agree with in face of opposition. I know a lot of people who went out and bought Dixie Chicks CD's after clearchannel banned them and staged CD smashing rallies.
Based on what I saw at Lollapalooza, a band expressing anti-Bush sentiments on stage may get less play on the radio but they get enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Besides that, I think bands that are thoughtful about their political views are often thoughtful about their music. People who put effort into the message they're singing about are also going to put effort into the music they write to go along with those words.

I can think of a lot of great bands that talk or sing about left-wing politics. When I think of conservative bands...shallow music I can't stand like Britney Spears and Kid Rock comes to mind. So if I hear an artist is singing and talking about progressive issues then I give them an extra listen.

Anonymous said...

I guess for me its about the event. If I go to a concert, I expect to hear the music. I don't mind interactive chatter, but I don't like that artists assume (or don't care if) their audience agrees with their own personal political, religious, whatever views and forces the crowd (who probably just paid a mint to see them) to stand there in limbo waiting for the music to start back up again. When this occurs I do usually exercise my right to go get a drink or use the facilities.

But, if I go to a rally (political or otherwise) then I expect to hear people express their views - some for and some against - whatever the topic be.

I don't necessarily think that public performers shouldn't use their notoriety to further their personal causes, I just don't want to be subjected to it having paid $$$ without agreeing to listen first.


Yellowdog said...

My mind goes numb when I hear people say things like Dave H.

I" would have much more respect in his opinions if he were to take O'Reilly's challenge or anyone elses who is going to ask hard questions, and debate some of those issues just to see how informed he really is or if he is just another leftist cool-aid drinker.

When do Americans lose their right to express thier opinions without losing thier right to being an American? Why is there always a challenge from the right if someone expresses an opinion?

The one thing that really blows for me is that those young men and women who are fighting for the US military is that they dont have the same rights as those for which those are supposedly trying to preserve. Pure hyprocrosy if ever heard of.

A actor or singer or any other Joe blow American has the legal First Amendment right to express support for an adminstration or the right to depose an administration.

To not acknowledge that this administration has tortured, lied and gotten our generation into a war that we will never financialy recover from is to not be forgiven.

Those who do not learn from the past are bound to repeat it!

Bruce Springstein as a musician sucks. Never cared for him,Clarence or anyone else until the Sopranos came along. Bruce as an artist has the right to write, print and sing anything he wants. We also have the right not to listen.

Where would we be in this century without those from the 60s who spoke up? Where would we be without "agendas" from the 60s?

Have we become our parents who loathed Dylan, Crosby Stils and Nash and so many others who sung the truth from history.

Open your eyes people, sometimes the truth hurts.

disillusioned said...

This blog is a perfect example of people's inability to grasp a central point or to read between the lines.

This blog is not about the freedom of speech or artistic rights. Go back and read Dan's original post. If you see anything in there that says that Bruce or anyone else can't write a song totally filled with political lyrics, then you must have struggled mightily with reading comprehension in school.

How we got to be the most powerful country on earth is beyond me.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Bravo, Disallusioned!

brunettechicagogal said...

"His fans don’t buy his albums and attend his concerts because they feel that his music will lead to a shift in the political landscape that will in turn evoke positive changes to our society."

Dan, how do you know? Maybe you don't buy his albums for that reason, but I'll bet some do.

I hear what you're saying, though. I just went to his concert last night. He went off on one political tangent (one I agreed with), and that was it. The rest was all music. But I've attended many other shows where the performer spouts off politically. Whether I agree with their views or not, usually I want that stuff kept to a minimum because I figure the messages they want to get across are usually embedded in their songs, and I came to hear the music. That said, musicians -- and here I differentiate from "performers" (JLo, Britney, etc.) -- for years have used their songwriting abilities as a way to make political statements (and statements about matters of the heart and other personal issues as well). To some, they are our modern-day poets, providing a musical record of sorts about the times in which we live.

So I don't see the "service" they provide as comparable to what a doctor provides -- that was a weak analogy. Doctors are scientists; musicians are artists. Big difference. And I agree with what Nancy said -- musicians are not beholden to anyone but themselves and likely don't give two hoots about who wants to hear about their politics and who doesn't.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

So I don't see the "service" they provide as comparable to what a doctor provides -- that was a weak analogy. Doctors are scientists; musicians are artists. Big difference. And I agree with what Nancy said -- musicians are not beholden to anyone but themselves and likely don't give two hoots about who wants to hear about their politics and who doesn't.


By arguing against your and Nancy's claim that artists are only beholden to themselves, I think that I can make the claim that the doctor analogy is a good one.

I agree that when an artist is in her bedroom or studio creating her art, she isn’t beholden to anyone or anything except her own vision. But once she turns her art into a business by asking people to pay her for it, she does have a responsibility to her customers.

When she accepts money in exchange for the opportunity to hear her perform, she should feel a responsibility to provide her audience with the product that they expected to receive.

What if the Police had decided on a whim, on the night you saw them, to perform nothing but Peter, Paul and Mary covers. Would you feel justified in wanting your money back, as you would if you ordered a Police CD from Amazon and they sent you a PP&M LP instead? Or, as artists, are they free to express themselves however they choose and you have to sit there appreciate it? (I’m not suggesting that the Police are legally bound to play their own songs, but a reasonable person would expect them to and even Sting isn’t arrogant enough to believe that people will pay $200 to hear him sing Puff the Magic Dragon.)

So if you accept my assertion that musicians are also business people, and why wouldn’t you, then the doctor comparison is analogous.

Yes, one is a scientist and one is an artist, but both are selling a service that we value because of their talent and expertise. So why is the musician given a free pass to deviate from his area of expertise and express his political views between songs*, while the doctor must stick to health matters during an examination?

*Again, I’m not talking about political messages that are included in a song’s lyrics. But I think you’ll agree that any political or social message written into a song is secondary to the song itself. If you don’t like the music or the melody, you’re not going to like a song just because it has a message that resonates with you, unless you’re a Joan Baez fan. But you can like a song that has a message that doesn’t resonate with you by ignoring or remaining ignorant of the lyrical content. A good beat and catchy melody is all it takes. So I think that you can legitimately complain about a musician getting up on a soapbox between songs even though similar sentiments are expressed in his songs.

Thanks for commenting,

nancy said...


These comparisons are getting way out of hand. Has Bruce Springsteen ever sent his band home and delivered spoken word screeds like you suggested? Did Clapton deliver a speed metal "Layla", again like you suggested? Did The Police ever really have that unadvertised Peter, Paul and Mary concert? It's not fair to compare something that is happening (Springsteen's political speeches) with events that haven't (and WON'T!) and then ask "Well how would you like that?" It's not the same thing at all and that's why you had to make up absurd examples.

Just because you can draw comparisons among any number of people who collect your money in exchange for a service doesn't mean their behavior will, or should be, the same. My doctor gives me a little hug on the way out of my appointment. If the guy who changes my oil did the same, I'd have a problem with that.

Your original post serves more as a warning to Bruce Springsteen to be careful lest he offend some of his fans. Point taken, but I still really believe he has nothing to worry about. I'm sure he appreciates your concern for his ticket sales though.

As the comments have come in, it now seems you and some others are not so much looking out for Bruce's best interest so much as expressing displeasure that he uses his stage to wax philosophical on the United States. Now you seem more worried about the ticket holders' money, but again, I think for the most part they're OK with what they're paying for too.

Frankly Dan, it's especially disappointing coming from you, who has been given such a unique opportunity to write about topis that are very personal and specific to you in our local newspaper. I would think that you of all people would appreciate and understand the importance of a chance to stray "outside your area of expertise" and try to enlighten others a little bit about topics that interest you. And similar to Bruce using his musical stage to share his opinions, yours appear within the pages of a newspaper, arguably a place to read the news of the world.

But tucked within all the depressing news, a few times a month, many of us who choose to partake in your columns sometimes actually learn about people or places that we might not otherwise have a chance to know. What a shame it would be for all of us who enjoy the many freelancers in the SJR if some old grumbler began complaining that the State Journal Register shouldn't be trying to do anthing other than deliver hard news.

I have a sneaking suspician that it's not that you or Bosses'Boss are so opposed to the soapboxing, so much as the politics espoused. And I still maintain that it's blown greatly out or proportion anyway. A few rants here or there, of any political persuasion, aren't going to hurt anybody and do not amount to any kind of consumer abuse.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


I didn't compare a Sprinsteen political speech with the Police doing PP&M covers. I was trying to counter, using an admittedly ridiculous example so there wouldn't be any confusion with the original point of this post, your and Kathy's claim that artists aren't beholden to anyone but themselves. Once they put their work on the market, they do have a responsibility to the people that purchase that work.

Do you not agree that both artists and doctors are business people?

If not, why?

If so,then why is it presumptuous and inappropriate for doctors and waitresses to espouse their political views to their customers while performing their services, but it's fine for musicians to do so in concert?

And why do you not object to hugging your doctor, but you might object to the Qwikee Lube guy doing the same? Are you some kind of elitist who looks down on blue collar workers? Would you be leery of hugging Bruce, or has his wealth cleansed him of his grimy and common origins?

As for disagreeing with Bruce's politics, I'm really not up on his positions, but I would guess that we agree on more than a few things. Again, it's not what's being said, it's when it's being said and being cognizant of what earned him that place behind the microphone.

Thanks for commenting,

nancy said...


Your insistence on lumping all
"business people" together is frustrating the ever living hell out of me!!!!

What do you think the dress code or uniform for all these business people should be? Should the Boss wear a lab coat, an apron, Carhart bibs? Would I like to see my dentist in ripped up jeans and a bandana?

I accept the hug from my doctor not because he is in clean, freshly pressed pleated Chinos and a golf shirt, but because we have a long history and he knows me personally and physically and a trust has been developed over the years.

On the other hand, I don't hug the guy at Brahler because I don't know him and appreciate the personal space that he has never invaded. Does that make me a snob? Does it make my doctor a better business person....or a worse one?

Simililarly, I would be extremely offended if the Brahler guy was to ask the same questions of me that my doctor does. Do YOU not see the DIFFERENCE? Sometimes there simply are not parallels to be drawn.

So the question really is, just what exactly is the responsibility of a musician to his or her fans? To deliver the music on their latest album only? Can they play some old favorites? Can they remark about the good looks of some young person in the front row or is that not what the ticket holder paid for?

If any of the hyperbolic examples you gave were to happen in real life, I think an argument could be made that an artist deceived their fans in some way. But that's not what's happening in Bruce Springsteen's case, as BCG can attest first hand.

I wonder how many people offended by his political musings have no problem with the Ten Commandments being displayed in federal buildings?

This blog is a fantastic example of how really impossible it is to never offend anyone. The beauty of it is, we can all choose to visit or not, and comment or not. There are so many more important things in the world to get outraged about. Really.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


I think we might have something in common in missing the point. My one and only intention in stating that artists are similar to doctors in that they both are in the business of providing a service, was to counter your claim that musicians aren't beholden to anyone but themselves. You seem to grant them some sort of exalted status, but it's all commerce once they put themselves on the market.

I'll agree that's alright for Bruce to use the occasion of a musical concert to promote political positions, if you'll agree that it's similarly acceptable for a doctor to do the same thing during an examination. Presently, you've only said that it's not the same thing, but you haven't explained why.

Me? I think that it's a musicians responsibility to play music, preferably the songs that the audience has come to expect (BTW:I recommend a very liberal dress code, if any at all), and a doctor's responsibility to dispense with health care (business casual is acceptable, but a white lab coat is always a nice touch.) If either ventures beyond their speciality, they risk offending their customers.

Thanks for commenting,

P.S. Frankly, I'm insulted that you would counter with the Ten Commandments in the court house example, as if that's a position I adhere to.

nancy said...


Do you truly not see the difference between a personal relationship with a doctor, who is charged with your health and with whom trust is of the hightest importance, and a musical artist that is performing in front of thousands, and doesn't even know who you are? You are really hardcore about your concerts!!!As demonstrated here, fundamental differences in opinion in matters of politics and religion can lead to incredibly strained exchanges and loss of respect for another person. That is a far greater risk to take when that person is trusted to make the best decisions about your health.

If a musical artist pisses me off, he doesn't know or care and that's what the difference is. Maybe you'll argue that he should care, and that's sweet, but it's not the job of a musical artist to not step on my toes and maintain a professional relationship with me. It's not an artist's job to try to appease the masses by serving up only what's been offered before. It's all part of the concert experience.

Do you consider the same criteria when trying to find a doctor as you do when trying to choose a concert to go to? I'm guessing your doctor doesn't even have a bassist, but if he does, is he any good?

The concert experience is unique in that there aren't really stops. It's all part of the performance and you're trying to control what that artist can (or should) say in between songs. What of the fans that like what Bruce Springsteen says and who are energized and inpsired by his words as well as his songs? Should Bruce not be concerned about what those fans are looking for?

I really think you are trying to be contrary and you understand the difference, but you're trying to back me into a corner. It's a common maneuver.

Dave H said...

Once again I am drawn into these never-ending opinions that never really change anyone’s mind. I retired Dan but felt I needed to make a comment since you were referring to me.

Nancy, your comments about O’Reilly tells me you never really watch him or you would know that he has only muted three people due to filibustering. Name one other show that presents both sides, hard questions are asked, and lets the audience decide based on the info. I disagree with O’Reilly quite often but I am attracted to the format of the show. There is nothing else like it on TV. I think that the numbers speak for them selves as the most watched cable news program on TV.

Springsteen was on 60 minutes and they just let him say what he said without any rebuttal. Where does he get his facts?…The New York Times? I don’t know but I want to know where he gets his info and how he forms his opinion.

Roy, Springsteen sucks to you but is music not subjective? Is one band better than another because they play harder fret chords or dress crazier, or is just because it strikes an individual chord in an individual that makes them feel good or takes them to another place? Those kind of blanket statements take away from your argument.

Once again I go into retirement. Dan you are an eloquent writer keep up the good work…Let the opinions begin.


B's.B. said...

It's kind of nice to sit back and watch others do the heavy lifting.

Rock on!

Rock-Robster said...

To Dave H-

(speaking of the O’Reilly Factor) "I think that the numbers speak for them selves as the most watched cable news program on TV."

WOW!! So, in your mind, popularity equals quality?? I can assume then that you get the bulk of your opinions from "CSI" or "Dancing with the Stars" (the two top rated shows on television).

People get to have their own opinions - and just like you get yours from popular television shows, others might choose different sources. To say that Bruce Springsteen needs to go on a show as blatantly biased as the O'Reilly Factor in order to be able to legitimately espouse an opinion is ludicrous (and before you try to spew the neo-con party line and say that O’Reilly is "Fair and Balanced" try reading a bit that isn’t from the Fox News website -

My question is – where does Billy O. get HIS facts? . . . The Washington Times? I don’t know but I want to know where he gets his info and how he forms his opinion. Maybe he should go onstage during a Springsteen concert and try to get his message across . . . it would be about as productive a discussion as the other way around . . .

p.s. what the heck is a "fret chord"???

Chazz said...

Yellowdog, it's time to come down from your "trip" my friend. Every American IS entitled to their opinion, but not all opinions hold the same merit. Opinions that are developed from sound facts and information hold more merit than those that are not. 2+2=4 is based on sound mathematical principals, but maybe, in my opinion, they should equal "7"....duhhhh. That's my opinion and guess what, it's wrong.

Every American soldier fighting overseas has the exact same right to their opinion as every other American citizen, where you get your "facts" that they don't is quite puzzling.

You do have the right to agree with or oppose the current administration, but as you stated to "depose" the administration, well, that actually takes place during the electoral process or through impeachment. Check your context please. Or change your flavor of kool-aid.

You are living in the past my friend. A lot of good things did come out of the 60's, as you said. But there are some very bad things that have come about as a direct result of the 60's generation and we are still living with their legacy today. That's a discussion for another day.

Bruce can sing and say whatever the hell he wants to. You, me, us, we can opt to listen or we can just ignore that and enjoy his music. Hell, he's getting to the point now where you can't understand what he's singing about anyway. Sounds more and more like Joe Cocker everyday. It's the preaching between songs that I can live without.

I think a lot of people, myself included, find most of the celebrity types to be very hypocritical when it comes to their preaching and their politics. We hear them say that they want us to do things this way, and that way and whatever. And when it comes down to it, they don't practice what they preach. I'm not lumping all celebrities into that mold, but I think a lot of them need to be held to account when it comes to their points of view. Bono is a good example of a celebrity who does things the right way. He may not agree with a lot of things going on with the US and the world at large, but he handles himself in the correct way. He doesn't get hot and bothered and whipped into a frenzy when it comes to his politics. He handles himself with grace and has sound facts to back up his opinions. Hell, he even met with the President to discuss AIDS, 3rd world debt relief, etc. That's a celebrity who handles himself well. Do you think that he would have gotten the time of day from the Pres' if he was always going around foaming at the mouth about lies and oil and the like? NO. Let's see Sean Penn have a sit-down with "W" to discuss Katrina relief. Nice try Spicoli. There's no endless tirades on Bono's part, there's no mindless rhetoric coming out of his mouth. That's how a celebrity will get my respect. And I don't think he and I see the world in the same light either.

Dan, great piece, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

"As for acoustic or altered versions of songs at, why would you even want to go to a live show if what you're after is the consistent recorded versions available on your iPod?"


1. To spill my beer on self-absorbed leftists who enjoy listening to between song political banter.

2. To hear the singer act like he is really interested in the city containing the venue I am at, and that I am really part of a crowd that is louder than their last stop.

3. Cop a cheap feel in the crowd.

Don't you?

Yellowdog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yellowdog said...

Yellowdog said...
As someone said earlier, Drink your Kool-aid and come with me. These are some of the most ridiculous arguements I have ever heard.

First off, Dan is a good writer but I dont think the point of a blog or especialy this blog is for the writer to be correct all the time. Afterall, this isnt the Rush Limbaugh Network. OR IS IT?

I assumed, and you know what they same when you assume, that Dan was throwing out his opinions for other to draw from. Other to eject thier opinion on. I Think thats part of the problem with this who diatribe. So many think that others opinions dont equate unless they match thier own.

To refelct on what Dan said that I totaly disagree with and Ill quote

"But once she turns her art into a business by asking people to pay her for it, she does have a responsibility to her customers."

I dont think artist have an obligation to perform anything that they dont want to perform. If they do, they will most likely succed financialy but maybe thats not thier objective. I'll use a great example that I will get trampled with. Andy Kaufmann.

The guy was a genius. A nuttjob but a comic genius. He did what he wanted, certainly not what the audience expected.

To Dave, yes I think Springstein suck and YES YES YES some bands are better than others. How can they not be? It is of course up to interpretation but some bands certainly are better than others

"Cant we all just get along"?

nancy said...

To Anonymous 5:40

I know that you don't represent most of the conservative commenters here, especially with points #1 and #3 which indicate a fair amount of misguided hostility toward people who don't agree with you. Seek help.

The Potentate said...

To BFS, Bosses' Boss, et. al.:

I applaud your efforts to get everyone to do it YOUR way and get everythin’ back to the way it should be – the way it was!! Why, when we was young, artists didn’t talk between songs . . . they just played their fiddle on got on with the show, consarnit! I am the Potentate of the Grumpy Old Man Club and I can see that you would fit right in to our organization. We champion the cause of Grumpy Old Men everywhere, and fight for our right not to have to deal with- listen to- or experience change of any sort . . . ‘cause it’s all bad anyway!

I'm certain from reading these posts that you gentlemen will agree heartily with our credo: We despise the growing depravity of the world, and of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation . . . we also don’t like that it’s always so cold in here - and why do they have to make the remote control buttons so small?

I will look for you at our next meeting . . .

Wilbur J. Huffnpuff
Grand Potentate of the Grumpy Old Man Club (Sangamon County Chapter)

B's.B. said...

Mr. Impotentate,

Thanks for "learnin" all us dummies with your big words and all.

Really, I must give you credit for your yeoman-like attempt at humor. Keep trying, it will come someday.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

The Potentate,

You’re cleverness is only surpassed by your ability to overstate and your impressive user name.

You must know that I never said that musicians shouldn’t talk between songs. My point is that Bruce earned his place in the spotlight in front of thousands of people because of his music and it’s pretentious of him to take advantage of his position by espousing his personal political views to people who may or may not want to hear them, but who all certainly paid to hear Born to Run. Forget censorship. Forget the liberal/conservative volleys since that was never pertinent to this argument anyway. Bruce has the right to say whatever he wants, but he can be rightfully criticized for doing so.

Thanks for commenting,

nancy said...

Yessssss! He CAN be crtiticized! I think we've finally reached an agreement!

But in all fairness, Dan, let's see who "overstated" their cases throughout these comments (as you accuse the "Potentate").

Your original post was about political gabbing between songs. But it was you and Boss's Boss and Dave H.who began shifting the discussion towards what Bruce Springsteen should and shouldn't sing in concert, how he should sing it, (some control issues at play here?)how he is just like a doctor in terms of his responsibility to his audience (um, patients?), Bruce's dismissal of the E. Street Band in favor of "spoken word screeds", waitressing, Barbra Streisand, Amazon's botched delivery of a Police CD and Bill O'Reilly. I believe it was Dave H. who first made it a liberal or conservative argument by referring to "leftist cool-aid".

I will admit to going off course by alluding to the U of I chief, which Boss's Boss thought was his original idea because he didn't detect my subtle reference. I also own up to responding to hyperbole which causes these things to get so off subject.

Could you clarify this statement in your last comment, 10:27 a.m.?

"You must know that I never said that musicians shouldn’t talk between songs."

Do you mean talking in general, as long as it's not political in nature? Because if you did, aren't you contradicting your assertion that ticketholders are paying to hear Bruce sing?

B's.B. said...

"I will admit to going off course by alluding to the U of I chief, which Boss's Boss thought was his original idea because he didn't detect my subtle reference. I also own up to responding to hyperbole which causes these things to get so off subject."

Nancy, sweet Nancy,

Once again you have assumed that you are smarter than the other bloggers on this site. Your tone is rather caustic, but I will try to rise above it in my response.

In regard to the "Chief" reference, I certainly saw that you used it first and decided since you opened that can of worms I would use it as well, as an example for my argument. Unfortunately it didn't work as you can't seem to view things from a hypothetical vantage point for argument's sake.

Unfortunately you are in frequent need of clarification as you seem to think the worst of the intent of some of the bloggers' on this site. Lighten up a little. Because I have a very strong dislike for the blind liberal point of view doesn't mean I dislike the blind liberal.

nancy said... old softy! I feel the love.

Bill O'Reilly said...

Dan, thank you for helping me advance my agenda to make those liberal elites shut up! shut up! shut up! Celebrities must be silenced if they dare speak about political issues, except for Fred Thompson and Arnold.

By repeating most of my talking points you're helping me silence dissent, whether you realize it or not.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Bill O.

You're obtuse.

If Bruce was railing against illegal immigrants and gay marriage, I'd want him to keep his opinions to himself because he should be singing. And if Arnold picks up a guitar during his state of the state address, I'd want him to keep his songs to himself because that's not what he's being charged to do on that occasion.

Not every issue can be painted with a red or blue brush. Unless, of course, you're obtuse.

Thanks for commenting,