With the new album, though, Springsteen has openly credited his inspiration to Occupy Wall Street, whose inclination toward anger and violence quickly became apparent. So the sentiments he expresses on the album are closely linked to (in fact indistinguishable from) his actual persona.
Continuing in OWS style, in “Shackled and Drawn” Springsteen sings,
Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bills
It’s still fat and easy up on bankers hill
Up on bankers hill the party’s going strong
Down here below we’re shackled and drawn
Growing more explicit, on “Jack of All Trades,” which is narrated by a laborer, perhaps an illegal immigrant, Springsteen sings:
The banker man grows fatter, the working man grows thin
It’s all happened before and it’ll happen again
It’ll happen again, they’ll bet your life
I’m a Jack of all trades and, darling, we’ll be alright
Now sometimes tomorrow comes soaked in treasure and blood…
So you use what you’ve got, and you learn to make do
You take the old, you make it new
If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight.
On the most incendiary song on Wrecking Ball, “Death to My Hometown,” whose title sounds like some sort of al-Qaeda parody of eighties-era Springsteen, the Boss ventures even further. The song sounds like a traditional Irish fighting anthem, and he apparently feels that the old-timey feel gives him cover to say exactly what he’s thinking about how bankers — “vultures,” “marauders,” “greedy thieves” and flesh-eaters — allegedly came to town and ruined everything:
No cannonball did fly
nor rifles cut us down
no bombs fell from the sky
no blood soaked the ground
…but just as sure as the hand o’ God
they brought death to my hometown
…they destroyed our families’ factories
and they took our homes
they left our bodies
on the plains
the vultures picked our bones…
At this point Springsteen urges his audience to shoot the evildoers.
So listen up my sonny boy
be ready when they come
for they’ll be returning
sure as the rising sun
…send the robber barons straight to hell
To make it clear how the robber barons should be sent to hell, the song climaxes with the sound of a rifle or shotgun being cocked and fired.
Springsteen’s meaning couldn’t be clearer, and though he will no doubt claim that his words aren’t meant to be taken literally, he has millions of devoted followers hanging on his every word. How would he feel if someone acted on his bloodthirsty directives? At the very least, Springsteen should apologize, recall the album, and edit out the sound of the gunfire, and maybe the line “If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight” as well.
No conservative or Republican entertainer could escape outrage and condemnation after issuing such a naked appeal to kill anyone by whom they feel victimized, and Springsteen should know that shooting bankers isn’t the solution to the failed promise of the Obama presidency.