Rock Stars on Election DayNovember 6th, 2007 by Steven Gardner
For your election day reading pleasure I give you Bono.
“The next presidential election will be a real moment for America. Talk about the battle of ideas – I mean, this is it. You will get the country you deserve. You have to ask hard questions of who will be your leader, because we fans of America – annoying fans, maybe, but real fans – have a lot at stake. Even those who are not fans – everybody who values freedom, progressive thinking, innovation, has a stake in America. The country you may own. But not the idea.“
The comment comes toward the end of a Rolling Stone interview, where he proves himself abundantly thoughtful, especially for a rock star. This is what I hear all the time about Bono, that government types begrudgingly give him an audience and are then disarmed when he proves himself to be intelligent and informed.
“So we’re in the era of asymmetrical war. The greatest army cannot protect you from hatred that gets busy and organized and has enough of an audience to protect it. There’s a moment. Was that true of Caesar? Was that true of Napoleon? No. Might was always right. Strangely, we have now entered a phase where being powerful and having the biggest nuclear arsenal leaves you completely defenseless.”
Getting personal, U2 has been my second-favorite band for a couple decades. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band has been number one and will stay there. Postman had an entry a while back on Bruce’s new album being political. I wanted to respond to his main question, about what “breaking the narrative” means. I also wanted to post here about Springsteen’s album and the anti-Bush message he’s offering. Alas, there are ports and dropouts to consider, and still the local congressman’s book that I’ve yet to read. So Bruce waits anxiously for my take.
Here’s the short version. While Bruce’s politics have never been in doubt to me, most all of his songs have had themes nearly everyone could relate to. Art, in my opinion, doesn’t belong to the artist once its heard or seen. So I can take the phrase, “Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night,” and can have it mean whatever I want it to.
The reason people are disarmed by the likes of Bono, however, is because of guys like Bruce. I have no doubt that there is depth to Springsteen’s political beliefs. But he is not as good at Bono as proving that depth, at least not when he’s not singing. Few rockers or entertainers are. Springsteen, by the way, inducted U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In it he spoke of one of U2′s strength — being Irish — which means they don’t — like the English — have to overcome their more prim instincts.
Of the Irish and Italian, Bruce said:
“We come through the door fists and hearts first.”
Perhaps that’s another reason Bono’s eloquence on issues is so disarming. You expect the smash, but you’re not prepared to hear mention of Caesar, unless it’s in reference to a salad.
Thanks to my friend Brant for sharing the Rolling Stone piece with me. Enjoy the rest of this election day.