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Why Bruce Springsteen Sang Anti-War Songs to Veterans

The Boss broke out a cover version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” a ’60s-era anti-war rant during the concert broadcast on HBO. Springsteen also sang, “Born in the USA,” a number that sounds patriotic but actually excoriates America’s Vietnam War effort – “Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man.”

It begs the question … why sing anti-war songs during a tribute to men and women who may have fought in those conflicts? Couldn’t Springsteen have choosen any number of classic songs to show his admiration for U.S. veterans?

A closer look reveals the reasons why:

  • He Thinks Anti-War Songs are Pro-Troop: Bruce Springsteen’s liberal bona fides are clear. And, like many liberals, he may not be on the receiving end of right-leaning arguments. So no one in his inner circle tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Hey Bruce, do you think those are the best songs to sing tonight … in front of them?” One recalls New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael’s iconic observation about the 1972 presidential election. “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.’”
  • Reporters Won’t Press Him on His Choices: Conservatives and pro-troop Americans are outraged by his song selections. The media is recording some of that reaction, but that’s where the press coverage will more or less end. When the matter comes up in the future, it will be dismissed as a “right wing” diatribe, a partisan shot against a liberal icon. Reporters won’t hound Springsteen about his decision. Here’s an early example of a mainstream media reporter rushing to the singer’s defense.
  • Modern Humorists Will Give Him a Pass: Jon Stewart will either defend Springsteen from his “Daily Show” perch or ignore him for other, right of center subjects in the news cycle. “Saturday Night Live” will look elsewhere for satirical targets to taunt. Late night comedians won’t see it as a subject worthy of derision.

DID YOU KNOW: Bruce Springsteen did his level best to avoid fighting in the VIetnam War. He told Rolling Stone: “I had a brain concussion from a motorcycle accident when I was seventeen. Plus, I did the basic Sixties rag, you know: fillin’ out the forms all crazy, not takin’ the tests.”


      1. Not sure what the complaint is all about… Bruce has been Bruce for as long as I can remember; it’s not like they got something they didn’t expect. Through most of the tours in the 80’s he’d rail against “God Bless America” and then sing “This Land is Your Land.”

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