Ed Driscoll

He's Got A Plan -- To Stick It To The Man Himself!

Just to follow-up on the Springsteen post below, nowadays, the only time I read about Bruce touring is every four years during a presidential campaign, when he hits the road as a well-paid (at least from the gate receipts) adjunct of the DNC. To borrow from the vernacular of The Boss’s early ’70s glory days (to coin a phrase), has any musician become more Establishment than Springsteen?

Well, there are a few who come close–and what they say about themselves illustrates the duality of corporate rock perfectly. As Diana West wrote in The Death of the Grown-Up last year:

When U2’s Bono promises Grammy night fans “to keep f—-ing up the mainstream,” as critic Mark Steyn has noted, Bono fails to see–or admit–that he is the mainstream, a bonanza to corporate stockholders and well fit to perform at the official, ribbon-cutting opening of a presidential library in Little Rock.

I recently came across a similar moment in Wikipedia’s profile of Billy Joel. (No, I don’t know how I ended up there, either, but pop culture ephemera is what Wikipedia does best):

On March 10, 2008, Joel inducted his friend John Mellencamp into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony that took place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. During his induction speech for Mellencamp, Joel said:

“Don’t let this club membership change you, John. Stay ornery, stay mean. We need you to be pissed off, and restless, because no matter what they tell us – we know, this country is going to hell in a handcart. This country’s been hijacked. You know it and I know it. People are worried. People are scared, and people are angry. People need to hear a voice like yours that’s out there to echo the discontent that’s out there in the heartland. They need to hear stories about it. [Audience applauds] They need to hear stories about frustration, alienation and desperation. They need to know that somewhere out there somebody feels the way that they do, in the small towns and in the big cities. They need to hear it. And it doesn’t matter if they hear it on a jukebox, in the local gin mill, or in a goddamn truck commercial, because they ain’t gonna hear it on the radio anymore. They don’t care how they hear it, as long as they hear it good and loud and clear the way you’ve always been saying it all along. You’re right, John, this is still our country and we’ll always be victims of powerful people.”

But of course: no matter how many TV commercials, supermarket Muzak systems or football stadium loudspeakers play your music, no matter how many millions of albums you’ve sold or millions you’ve earned, “You’re right, John, this is still our country and we’ll always be victims of powerful people.”

That’s right! Stick it to the man — even if he’s yourself!