Bruce Springsteen, the “boss” of rock-and-roll and zillionaire blue-collar, “working class hero,” recently appeared on a television show hosted by someone named Jimmy Fallon to “spoof” the troubles of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who, as you well know, is seeing his political career in shambles after he (allegedly) allowed a huge traffic jam a few months ago on the George Washington Bridge, which links New York City to New Jersey (the native state of both Christie and Springsteen).
To provide some context, Christie is a not-so-conservative Republican and Bruce is a liberal Democrat (Christie is also a huge Springsteen fan).
Anyway, on the Fallon show, Springsteen (who is now 65 years old and worth an estimated $250 million and has not worked at a real job since Richard Nixon was president), sang a song called “Stuck in Jerseyland” to satirize Christie's "Bridgegate" controversy. (This fake song was patterned after Bruce's, uh, “classic” song called “Born to Run.”) Oh, and he wore his trademark blue denim jacket and headband (which is kind of like Bruce's “uniform” to show the masses that he's “cool.”)
Bruce Springsteen is, in my humble opinion, the absolute worst “rock star” in history. He is a boring, no-talent phony hack who has somehow carved out a spectacularly successful career, featuring at least two dozen albums over the past 40 years and millions of devoted fans.
Like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Moore, Spike Lee and many other “celebrities,” Bruce is living proof that one needs no talent, no real charisma and no inspiration to become successful in a degraded American pop culture landscape where luck and mediocrity reign supreme.
Oh, and did I mention that Bruce has a wretched new album coming out (which I'm sure he was NOT promoting on the Fallon show). His new record is called “High Hopes” and, believe me, I have no “high hopes” regarding its quality.
I have long been puzzled by Springsteen's enduring popularity – I mean, why would anyone idolize someone whose “songs” are dreary, dull, lacking in melody and stuffed with puerile lyrics that a 10-year-old could have written?
I have friends who are Bruce fans and they abide by him – but when I ask them why they love him so, they invariably recite meaningless tropes like: “He's the Boss, man!” or “he gives four-hour concerts!” (Four hours of crap is not necessarily an asset). One friend even praised Bruce for having raised “drug-free kids” (hey, let's give the man a Nobel Prize for what millions of other parents have also done!)
I have also heard Bruce described as a "great songwriter" -- indeed, one of the best of his era. But, I wonder what this assessment is based upon? Which of his songs could possibly match the quality, beauty and eternal charms of true pop-rock classics like 'Hey Jude' or 'Let it be' or 'My generation' or 'Satisfaction' or 'Suffragette City'?
I find Mr. Springsteen and his “music” appallingly lame, tiresome, pathetic, dull, uninspiring, derivative and utterly worthless.
I have my own theories about his mysterious popularity – a massive marketing campaign has promoted him as the “voice of the people” and, more importantly, he is probably the last remaining white rock star who still has a large audience. (Friends of mine who have wasted money attending Springsteen concerts admit that the only blacks in evidence worked security or sold concessions. So much for Bruce’s crossover appeal)
I would like to compare Bruce to his contemporary, David Bowie. Yes, I know some people dislike Bowie for being “pretentious,” but at least Bowie is highly intelligent (an intellectual, actually), a brilliant and innovative songwriter and musician who created some of the most extraordinary musical landmarks of the 1970s and early 1980s.
Bowie is a true artistic genius and an immortal with not an ounce of mediocrity in his oeuvre. And Bruce? He has done nothing but pollute the airwaves with horrid non-music for four decades, while pretending that he “cares” about the problems of the poor and working class (two segments of the population who do not really buy Bruce records, do not go to his concerts and do not give a damn about him).
Ever hear Bowie give an interview? He is erudite, charming, witty, funny and self-effacing. Ever hear Bruce talk? He's dumb and can barely string a coherent sentence together.
Yes, I realize that many rock stars –from Sting to Bono to John Lennon to Paul McCartney – are hypocrites and phony uninformed liberals (perhaps it goes with the territory when ordinary people suddenly become rich and famous and are overwhelmed with guilt). But at least Sting, John and Paul produced some great music that will last forever and entertain and inspire generations not even born.
What does all this have to do with Gov. Christie? Not much, except that Bruce is using Christie's travails to remain "relevant." And you can be damned sure that Bruce will never get stuck in a traffic jam on the GW Bridge – he can easily hop on a helicopter and fly over the unwashed masses he pretends to “champion.”
“High Hopes” should be available soon at your local record retailer – oh wait, those shops don't exist anymore. Rather you can download it on iTunes for $12.95 (or whatever the going price) and reserve tickets now for Bruce's next (and inexorable) world tour -- he needs the extra $30 million or so for tax purposes.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.