Ed Driscoll

Park Avenue Freeze-Out

It’s clearly written from the left-hand side of the aisle, and reaches many of the same conclusions as Allan Bloom a quarter century ago. But as somebody who thinks it was all downhill after The E Street Shuffle and Born to Run, I’m finding much to relate to in Leon Wieseltier’s epic deconstruction of establishment liberalism’s obsession with Bruce Springsteen in the New Republic, which concludes:

It is one of the duties of rock n roll to create nostalgia. There is a bliss that only the sounds of one’s youth can provide. (For me, it’s been downhill since Dion.) Springsteen worship is a cry against the clock. But rock n roll has played also another role in American life, which is to prove that Herbert Marcuse was right. There will be no revolution in America. This society will contain its contradictions without resolving them; it will absorb opposition and reward it; it will transform dissent into culture and commerce. Marcuse’s mistake was in believing that this is bad news. It is good news, because we will be spared the agonies of political purifications. But it is also comic, as protest songs become entertainment for the rich, and Bruce Springsteen the idol of the elite. The New Yorker clinches it: he is the least dangerous man in America. “With all the unrest in the world,” as Tony Curtis once said to Marilyn Monroe, “I don’t think anyone should have a yacht that sleeps more than twelve.”

As his tone-deaf new album reminds us, Bruce may no longer have much in common with his audience, but he certainly can sympathize with that last quote.