The Boss embraces Occupy
Bruce Springsteen’s new single explores income inequality and captures the rage of the 99 percent
By Stephen Deusner
Bruce Springsteen officially announced today that his new album, “Wrecking Ball,” would hit shelves on March 6. Rumors had hinted that this would be his angriest album and that he would be addressing the current recession and the economic travails of middle- and lower-class America. If the first single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” is any indication, this will be to Occupy Wall Street what “The Rising” was to 9/11: the moment when Springsteen takes up a cause and makes sense of an event that has stymied other musicians.
Springsteen’s not the first artist to take up the occupiers’ cause, nor is he the first to filter his outrage through the iconography of Woody Guthrie, the Dust Bowl folkie who has become, 44 years after his death, the patron saint of the 99 percent. Tom Morello evoked Guthrie’s example when he strolled around Zuccotti Park singing “This Land Is Your Land,” which won MTV’s dubious award for Best #OWS Performance last year.
More recently, Jackson Browne debuted a folksy number at Occupy Wall Street that played against his soft-rock strengths in favor of talking-to-the-masses piety. Guthrie has proved to be a potent symbol of grass-roots dissent, yet these songs make it appear as though the folk singer has been thrust upon OWS rather than embraced by its demonstrators. And it’s a limited view of the singer as well, one that doesn’t accommodate his sense of humor or his sense of wonder.