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There is, though, one American star too big for the film makers to ignore, who consistently undermines their tidy narrative: Bruce Springsteen.When the Seventies is deemed to be indulgent and escapist, Springsteen made Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge of Town, bittersweet epics of blue collar life.
This passion for sharing is also evident in his giving of The Thrill of the Chase to all.They existed in the mainstream alongside pop stars and power ballads but they were completely anti-establishment.” Well it is true, that they sold 28 million copies worldwide of their 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction (not the 50 million claimed in the programme), and I purchased one myself.But I look at all that flamboyant screeching, widdly guitar and sexist posturing and think is that really the best a country of three hundred million can do?So, if you have an open mind and a romantic bent, please pull up a cushioned chair and come in a little closer.We will try to hand you something.” Although the book does just that, I believe Forrest lives to do the same for all places and things.In the Eighties, whilst idealism was apparently obscured by clouds of hairspray, Springsteen made The River, Nebraska, Born In The USA and Tunnel Of Love.
Springsteen springs from the same rebellious counter-culture that gave birth to American rock in the Sixties.
He revels in stars and stripes iconography but focuses on the nation’s failings.
As leading US music critic David Fricke notes, even Born In The USA is “not patriotic, it’s about a broken system.” With a new album, High Hopes, out this next week, Springsteen has spent over four decades as a rock and roll thorn in the side of the American dream and yet he is the fifth biggest selling US “rock” artist of all time (after Elvis Presley, the Eagles, Billy Joel and Aerosmith).
A charismatic live performer without compare, backed by the phenomenal E Street Band, Springsteen would certainly top my list of the greatest American rock stars.
For me, his creative longevity outweighs the claims of Jimi Hendrix, perhaps the most supernaturally gifted rocker all time, and The Doors, who attempted to use rock’s power like a spiritual battering ram to (as their Aldous Huxley influenced name suggests) break through the doors of perception.
I’m with Tom Petty, a rather more self-contained rock star, who drily remarks “that hair band stuff was just the absolute lowest point I’d ever seen rock get to.