American Songwriter Goes to the Super Bowl: The Wild, The Innocent, and the Super Bowl Shuffle

“Put Down Those Chicken Fingers!”

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The Wild, The Innocent, and the Super Bowl Shuffle: An In-Depth Report

This reporter has never been a big fan of football, and he sure as hell can’t stand commercials. So why was I watching the Super Bowl?

5 words:

Bruce Springsteen.

And the E Street Band.

Okay, that’s seven words.

Yes, Bruce was having his 12 minutes in the sun, and I was there to take it all in. I’m glad I did. That man knows how to rock a stadium.

In the lead up to the show, the ever-eloquent singer-songwriter had some choice quotes for the media. Speaking of how the election has changed his music, he told the New York Times :

“A lot of the core of our songs is the American idea: What is it? What does it mean? ‘Promised Land,’ ‘Badlands,’ I’ve seen people singing those songs back to me all over the world. I’d seen that country on a grass-roots level through the ’80s, since I was a teenager. And I met people who were always working toward the country being that kind of place. But on a national level it always seemed very far away.

“And so on election night it showed its face, for maybe, probably, one of the first times in my adult life,” he said. “I sat there on the couch, and my jaw dropped, and I went, ‘Oh my God, it exists.’ Not just dreaming it. It exists, it’s there, and if this much of it is there, the rest of it’s there. Let’s go get that. Let’s go get it. Just that is enough to keep you going for the rest of your life. All the songs you wrote are a little truer today than they were a month or two ago.”

Bruce also spoke out against his own decision to sell a new Greatest Hits album strictly through Wal-Mart.

“…given its labor history, it was something that if we’d thought about it a little longer, we’d have done something different.” He added, “It was a mistake. Our batting average is usually very good, but we missed that one. Fans will call you on that stuff, as it should be.”

On to the Super Bowl.

Pre-game, people were betting (as in, legitimately exchanging money over the Internet) on what songs the Boss would bust out for his Super Bowl sized set. Eventually, though, too much press attention lead websites like to shut down those who thought we’d get “The Rising” followed by “Born In The USA.”

Here’s the set list I was personally hoping for:

Ain’t Got You
Spare Parts
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?/Lost in the Flood

or maybe:

Paradise Down by the C
Janey Don’t You Loose Heart
Candy’s Room
Independence Day

or even:

The Angel
For You
Meeting Across the River
Sinaloa Cowboys
The E Street Shuffle (Super Bowl re-mix)

Needless to say, I did not get my wish.

After being warmed up by the lip-synced performances of Faith Hill and Jennifer Hudson (who knocked it out of the park, regardless), and the bizarre Bob Dylan/ Pepsi commercial (more on that later), it was on.

“Put down your chicken wings, put down your guacamole.” Oh snap.

The Boss was here.

And he was in gear. Making the most of his rapidly evaporating televised time, Springsteen was a ball of fire, recreating the Born To Run album cover and referencing previous Bruce Moments with “I want you to turn your television way up,” and “is there anybody alive out there?” He also brought his preacher persona, who led the band through a souped up “10th Avenue Freeze Out” (ah, but of course.) Then it was time for “Born To Run,” which Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison (he of the history making 100 yard-dash) surely was. True, in the lyrics to “Born To Run,” the “American Dream” itself had run away, but the song’s anthemic qualities were able to rise to the symbolic occasion.

“Working on a Dream” (complete with gospel choir) served as Springsteen’s new “message song,” slash convenient bit of product placement. There was no time to consider whether you or not you liked this new song, however, as after a verse or two, it was right into the goodtime, sports-appropriate “Glory Days.” With football references where the baseball references used to be. Brilliant. As he commandeered the stage, Springsteen hammed it up in proper E Street fashion. “Steve, what time is it?” he asked. “It’s Boss Time!” was the reply.

Bruce and the band adrenalized what turned out to be a pretty amazing Super Bowl, throwing a killer E Street party in the middle of Tampa.

Keep working on that dream.

speaking of, this Springsteen parody is worth a watch:


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Bob Dylan, Would Like to Buy the World A Pepsi