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Born to Run?

Born to Run?

So, the other day when I sat down to write a blog post, all that came out was a rant about the SOPA debate*. That’s really not what this forum is for, so—let’s try again, shall we?

The other thing that’s been taking up mental space for me just lately is imagining (hoping, dreaming) what the new Bruce Springsteen album due March 6 might be like. There’s been a taste already in the form of the single “We Take Care Of Our Own,” and it seems promising.

I’ve been a Bruce fan for decades now, and while he’s taken his share of wrong turns (if you’re so inclined, check my reviews here), he’s always been a source of inspiration… in fact, he helped inspire the original version of the story that became Believe in Me. The story has always contained an element of worlds—the political and the musical—colliding, but in my original vision back in 2002, these seemingly disparate worlds collided a bit more literally.

The very first germ of the story came from a scenario that surfaced briefly in the media in 1998, and more extensively in 2002.  The idea, taken semi-seriously at the time by everyone but its central figure: draft Bruce Springsteen to run for senator in his home state of New Jersey.

In some ways it seems obvious—favorite son with huge name identification, a passionate following, deep pockets and a track record of public involvement. In others, ludicrous. Why would the establishment take a rock star with no political experience whatsoever seriously, and why would a guy with the life and career of a Bruce Springsteen want to subject himself to the brutal mud bath that is modern politics? Springsteen seemed to agree with the latter line of thinking, ignoring the suggestion in 1998 and declaring in 2002, quoting Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman: “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.”

I tinkered with the idea—in my scenario, it was “rock star gets drafted to run for governor of California”—but before I got far, events overtook my little fantasy and we ended up with Governor Arnold-freaking-Schwarzenegger. It took me more than three years to shake that disappointment off and come up with plan B. The beauty of it, though, is that I think plan B turned out much better—more interesting and layered and full of twists—than plan A ever could have.

As for Bruce, he’s still doing what he does best—letting his music do the talking.

*Summary: I oppose censorship, and the bills are badly written and needed to be stopped, but don’t insult me with the fantasy rationalization that piracy is either free speech or a victimless crime; it’s theft, and the ultimate victims are artists and writers and musicians. Something needs to be done to protect creators’ rights, just something more reasonable and defensible than SOPA/PIPA.

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