Lecture Date: March 23, 2023
The Jon Properties/Van Zandt Restorations Lecture
I will discuss the currents of truth and fiction in Bruce Springsteen. Now fifty years into his recording career, and long renowned both the literary depth of his songwriting and transformative power of his live performances, Springsteen has also honed a reputation for being rigorously egalitarian. As he took to proclaiming onstage while introducing his signature song, “Born to Run,” “In the end, nobody wins unless everybody wins!” With a message too big to be limited to rock ‘n’ roll, Springsteen entered the political arena, advocating first for Vietnam veterans, labor unions and food banks. By the start of the new century he was so identified with American ideals that his 2002 album The Rising
, made in the shadow of 9/11, was greeted as a new national monument — the people’s response to the terrorist attacks. Twenty years later Springsteen serves as something like the rocker laureate of the United States. News of a new tour in 2023, his first since the Covid pandemic, was greeted with worldwide celebration. But after decades of keeping ticket prices relatively low, Springsteen has opted not just to increase the cost of tickets by 300 percent, but also to employ a dynamic pricing tool that, given the steep demand, increased the price of the best seats by up to ten times. What does this tell us about the man behind the larger-than-life Bruce Springsteen? And is this why he declared, in the one-man show he performed on Broadway in 2017, that he’s a fraud?