'The Distance Between American Reality and the American Dream': Bruce Springsteen's American Jeremiad, 2002-2012

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McMillan, Robert Scott
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Middle Tennessee State University
During the years 2002-2012, Bruce Springsteen has created a consistent body of work, which includes the numerous songs written, recorded, and performed on the albums The Rising (2002), Devils & Dust (2005), We Shall Overcome—The Seeger Sessions (2006), Magic (2007), and Wrecking Ball (2012) and the tours associated with these albums, as well as various spoken and published prose statements that he made in connection with the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential campaigns in support of John Kerry and Barack Obama, we can see that he has worked to create a sustained public narrative, which does work to fully explore “the distance between American reality and the American Dream” (“International Press Conference” 407-08). Springsteen’s narrative can be viewed as an American jeremiad through his lament of the apparent abandonment of basic American ideals that has led to the realities of a myriad of recent problems, such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the economic crisis. Springsteen offsets his lament on the factors leading to these problems with a call to “the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit” to build a “house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens” (“American Reclamation Project”). Through both his laments on the loss of American ideals and his call for a national return to these ideals, we can see that Bruce Springsteen has created a compelling 21st-century American jeremiad during the years 2002-2012.
Bruce Springsteen