Toward a Sociedade Alternativa (Alternative Society) (Song of the Week, 1/31/14)

Freedom

Last September, Bruce Springsteen played here in Brazil for the first time in twenty-five years (!), opening his shows with a cover of Brazilian star Raul Seixas’s song “Sociedade Alternativa,” a paean to progressivism, freedom, and the counter-culture. To celebrate my own Brazilian experience, that’s our Song of the Week. If you’re curious to see an English translation of the lyrics, go here; if you want to hear Bruce’s full two hours and forty-three minute show from Rock in Rio 2013 (an awesome set in which, among other things, Bruce and the E Streeters play the entirety of the Born in the USA album from start to finish), go here.

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Long Distance Dedication

Dear Casey,

A couple of days ago, Barack Obama won his second term as President of the United States, bringing a welcome end to an interminable campaign season, allowing those of us who supported him to relax and breathe easy for a while.

I’m happy things turned out as they did, because overall Obama has been a good president. He might already be a great one had he not been constantly, stupidly obstructed by the most disloyal opposition in American history, had he aimed higher on the things he did manage like healthcare reform, and had he the spine and integrity to actually disavow the more fascistic tendencies of the Bush administration rather than embracing and exceeding them.

I hope now, with the need to worry about the next election out of the way, President Obama will step us his game and act boldly and decisively to make the changes we need as a country. I don’t doubt his ability to do so, only his resolve. He has greatness in him, now he must cultivate it.

After winning like this, it’s easy to gloat. Schadenfreude is a wickedly tasty treat, especially when the other side has relentlessly attacked your freedoms, your patriotism, even your value as a human being. I have literally seen some folks turn on a dime, going from “You are a stupid, ungodly, un-American, traitorous abomination” to “It’s not classy to gloat like that.” So if my relief at winning over people like that is a bit high-handed at times, I can forgive myself.

But my thoughts turn to my many friends, and even my enemies, on the right. I’m glad they lost, certainly, but it’s not entirely for my own benefit. I’m glad they lost for their benefit as well, though they won’t agree, and many of them won’t even be able to see through their grotty filters well enough to understand that I wish them well and hope for the best for all of us. I care about them. I respect them, or at least those who haven’t thrown away any right to respect (like any of them who calls Barack Obama a nigger, for example). And I, and most of us progressives, actually want to work with them towards the common good. Obama wants to, and last time they turned his sincere desire to reach across the aisle into a tactical failing. I hope, after the message they were  just sent by the American people, the conservatives in congress accept a working relationship with the president this time instead of holding their breath until, as it turns out, the country turns blue.

So, Casey, could you please play “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for my friends on the right? I hope they’ll leave behind their sorrows, let this day be the last, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past…big wheels roll through fields, where sunlight streams, and we can all meet in a land of hope and dreams…

Sincerely,

Tim in Decatur

Tim, here’s your song. I hope your friends take this opportunity to reevaluate things, and that for the next four years and beyond, all of us can start actually working together toward solutions that help us all. And remember, we all need to keep our feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars…

We Take Care Of Our Own (Song of the Week, Election Day 2012)

There’s a sickness creeping up on us. Grab your brain, your heart, your soul, and help us beat it back.

Vote Obama. Vote Democrat. Give in to your higher angels, not your petty demons.

When I Leave Berlin (Song of the Week, 8/23/2012)

Bruce Springsteen recently played to a crowd of 55,000 in Berlin, which was his second biggest crowd there ever. The biggest was in 1998, with the largest crowd the band has ever played for, and it had historic import beyond its size:

Berlin, largely a working class city, has been a special place for Springsteen since his July 1988 concert behind the old Iron Curtain in East Berlin.

Watched by 160,000 people, or about 1 percent of then Communist East Germany’s population, it was the biggest rock show in East German history, and The Boss boldly spoke out against the ‘barriers’ keeping East Germans in their portion of the city.

Some historians have said the concert fed into a movement gaining moment at the time that contributed to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall 16 months later in November 1989.

‘Once in a while you play a place, a show that ends up staying inside of you, living with you for the rest of your life,’ he told the crowd on Wednesday after being handed a poster from a fan thanking him for the 1988 concert. ‘East Berlin in 1988 was certainly one of them.‘” (REUTERS)

As a special treat for the Berliners this time, Bruce and the E Streeters debuted a rousing cover of the song “When I Leave Berlin” by British folk musician Wizz Jones, and that is our song of the week. Enjoy.

As Promised, Springsteen…

In my post about the Springsteen show last Sunday (on my birthday), I said I was waiting for some decent videos to appear online, and I’d share some when they did. Well, I just dug around a bit in some of the stuff that’s been posted, and nothing I’ve seen so far has really captured the show well enough. I had much better luck the last time I saw him, when some of the smartphone footage posted was good enough to share (here and here).

I did find some good footage from the SXSW show three days earlier, and in order to give you a better sense of what the concerts are like, I’m going to share those, as well as Bruce’s live debut of the song “Wrecking Ball” at Giant’s Stadium, which was about to be torn down (and which is the subject of the song). I’d like to show actual performances from the show I saw, but whatcha gonna do?

After the songs, though, check out the keynote speech Bruce gave at SXSW. It’s brilliant. Funny, engaging, informative, musical, and awesome. If you haven’t seen it, you really, really should. Especially if you’re a musician. Or a writer.