HE’S ON FIRE – SPRINGSTEEN 1985 (part 1)

Articolo su Bruce Springsteen tratto da un Newsweek del 1985.

Lo ho diviso in due parti essendo molto lungo.
Buona lettura e buona settimana

America’s latest rock-and-roll hero has the fans going wild about the Boss.
It was crazy on South Wabash last week, but a Chicago cop, surveying the scruffy scene, pronounced it “good craziness.” By Wednesday about two dozen people had moved their homes onto the street, sleeping under the el tracks and washing up at McDonald’s—all on the mere rumor that Bruce Springsteen tickets might soon be available at Ticketmaster. Jim Teymer drove from Madison, Wis.—140 miles one way—to take his place on the South Wabash line. “He’s an all-American guy. ” said Tevmer. who listens
to Springsteen six hours a day, carrying tapes and headphones to work at an Oscar Mayer plant. “I believe in him so much. ” ,A t the phone company technicians were feverishly working to keep phoned-in ticket sales from clogging exchanges all over the Midwest . Illinois Bell put on-line a computer system that ‘s usually used to control phone traffic on Mother’s Day or handle calls to towns hit by tornadoes. Washington was crazy, too. A few days earlier, when tickets had gone on sale for the Aug. 5 show that will open the last leg of Springsteen’s ’84-’85 tour, phone volume more than doubled, tying up circuits from Virginia to the Boss’s home state of New Jersey. (The 52,306 tickets for RFK Stadium sold out in just over an hour and a half, faster than D.C. tickets for Prince and the Jacksons had gone.) And in New York, Ticketron sold some 236,000 Springsteen tickets in one day—shattering the old record set by the King Tut exhibit. In the long ticket lines, fans reached new heights in creativity. One bagged the limit—eight tickets at $17.50 apiece—and then sneaked back again in disguise. “One of our ticket sellers caught him,” a weary Ticketron official said. “She told him, ‘You changed all your clothes, you changed your wig, but you forgot to change your earring’.” No sale.

Pass Even in the rock-and-roll business, this represents serious insanity. What’s going on? At 35, 10 years after “Born to Run” and 13 months after starting his latest tour, Bruce Springsteen has become a kind of American archetype. He is rock and roll’s Gary Cooper— a simple man who expresses strong beliefs with passion and unquestioned sincerity. He is rock and roll’s Jimmy Cagney as well—streetwise and fiery, a galvanic mixture of body and soul. Hands down the best performer in pop, Springsteen always gives honest value for the fans’ entertainment dollars. And in this summer of mindless Rambomania, the values championed in his songs offer an alternate vision of resurgent American patriotism. Deep affection for home
and family informs almost every line, and above all there is a message of faith in hard times—a conviction that although small towns may crumble and factories rust, hope must never die. “Born in the U.S.A.,”Springsteen’s seventh album,is the strongeststatement yet of what amounts to his rock-and-roll world view. It’s also a huge seller, at 7. 5 million copies sold in America the biggest in the history of Columbia Records, still in the Top 10 after more than a year.
Outside the UnitedStates the record has sold 5 millioncopies in 20 countries, and
was the number-one album in Britain, West Germany and the Netherlands last week. Springsteen’s overseas tour this year confirmed his position as an international symbol of America. In Australia, Japan (“Kyoto,” a Springsteen associate says wonderingly. “What a response! We felt like we were in New Jersey.”) and Europe, kids waved American flags and chanted along with “Born in the U.S.A.” “He represents the dynamism of the United States,” says Christiane Schaeler of radio-station 95.2 in Paris. Besides, “The problems of city life and the working class are the same everywhere,” Scottish music student Michael Hutson said at a sold-out Springsteen concert at Newcastle. And as European audiences cheered, something curious happened at home: Springsteen stepped over the line in the American mind. He went over there a rock star. He’s comingback a symbol.
Despair: Springsteen’s status as an icon, though, isn’t as simple as it seems. It is based largely on “Born in the U.S.A.,” a song that younger audiences (and older ones with short memories) tend to take as an exultant anthem for Reagan-era America in fact it is about a vet whose life was irreversibly scarred by Vietnam. The powerfuI refrain, which Springsteen rasps out in a voice of pure pain, is more about promises broken than promises kept. And although his songs are ultimately hopeful, they are studded with powerful images of despair. The pictures stick in the mind: a drifter speeds down an empty highway past the refinery towers, nowhere to go on a steamy summer night and nothing to do but drive. A kid from a mill town gazes longingly up at a mansion on a hill. A highway patrolman, lonely and confused, watches the taillights disappear as his criminal brother escapes into Canada. These are pictures of an America gone wrong.
Springsteen himself seems uneasy about wearing the mantle of American Archetype. Friends describe him as a genuinely humble man, far removed from the excesses ofthe rock- star life. ”That’s really the real him,” says Clarence Clemons saxophonist in Springsteen’s E Street Band and a longtime friend. “Hecaresforevery person in theaudience.” Besidesbeingdecent, he seems to be canny enough to sense that rock and rollers just don’t make very good archetypes—being an icon of any sort is the furthest remove, spiritually, from the idea of rebellion that lies at rock’s heart. Besides, it’s heavy lifting being a symbol, and the cost is high. Look what it did to Elvis Presley. The lessons of Presley’s lonely life and sad death weren’t lost on Springsteen, who once scaled the walls of Graceland in an attempt to meet the King. Earlier this year he released a reworked Chuck Berry song, “Johnny Bye Bye,” an elegy for Presley: “They found him slumped up against the drain / With a whole lot of trouble running through his veins …. “
“That’s one of the things that has shortened life spans, physically and creatively, of some of the best rockand-roll musicians—that cruel
isolation,” he- told Rolling Stone last year. “If the price of fame is that you have to be isolated from the people you write for, then that’s too f—— high a price to pay.” So Springsteen still mingles with the public whenever he can. Amazingly, fans tend to respect his privacy. Two nights before his wedding in May, he went out and shot pool with his future in-laws at an Oregon bar. And last week as ticket madness raged through half of America, he dined out in midtown
Manhattan with a few close friends. “He tries to
control his own life,” says an old friend. “He’s not interested in being an isolated person.” If Springsteen is reluctant to stand as a cultural symbol, he is even more leery about
politics. He has no strong attachment to any party, and his own politics might be described as populist. He probably wouldn’t have even acknowledged the 1984 presidential race if President Reagan hadn’t made a clumsy attempt to claim the rocker for his own at a September campaign stop. “America’s future rests in a thou- sand dreams,” the president told a whistle-stop crowd in—where else?—New Jersey. “It rests in the message of hope in thesongs of a man so many young Americans ad- mire—New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.” An associate describes Springsteen as “astounded” by the incident. In October he told Rolling Stone: “You see the Reagan re-election ads on TV—you know: ‘It’s morning in America.’ And you say, ‘Well, it’s not morning in Pittsburgh . It’s not morning above 125th Street in New York. It’s midnight, and Iike.there’s a bad moon risin’.”
So the singer jabbed back, in his own fashion. In Pittsburgh, his first stop after the Reagan remark, he dedicated a song to an activist United Steelworkers’ local . In Tacoma, he dedicated a song to a local environmental organization and urged the audience to look into the group. He made pleas from the stage for local food banks in Atlanta Denver, Oakland and Los Angeles—and kicked in a series of $10,000 personal checks besides. He also delivered a few pointed remarks along the way. “This is a song about blind faith,” he told a Tacoma audience. “Like when the president talks about arms control. “
But that, intimates say, was only because Springsteen felt painted into a corner by the Reagan remark. Such direct volleys are rare. He is a musician first and last, his messages are in the music, and global concerns don’t often intrude. Most often it’s the small. personaltragedies that count in his world: lost jobs, shattered families, the high cost of broken dreams.