Working on a Dream: The Progressive Political Vision of Bruce Springsteen
For almost four decades, Bruce Springsteen's music has directly inspired, influenced, and uplifted millions of devoted fans, who hold a special place in their hearts and minds for his work. Springsteen's rise to the top of American music coincided with the triumph of American conservatism, and the veneration of marketplace values above democratic principles and humanistic priorities. Springsteen has consistently summoned his creative power and artistic vision to indict these political developments and demand the cultivation of a more compassionate and progressive society. And yet his often harsh critique of the status quo and radical ideas for reform have either been ignored or misunderstood, as a result of his "All American" image and his narrative storytelling style.
On nearly every major issue poverty, racism, urban decay, war, and peace Springsteen's music has offered a unique vision for moving forward with the agenda of creating the "country we carry in our hearts" as he called it in an op-ed for the New York Times. Filled with provocative analysis of Springsteen's best known hits and his most obscure songs, comparisons to other important works of American culture ranging from The Sopranos to Edward Hopper and a wealth of information about the last fifty years of American politics, culture, and society, Working On a Dream is a powerful and engaging study of this songwriter and performer's art.
David Masciotra shows how Springsteen's music darkly comments on the increased isolation of Americans, and calls for a return to community living and values, based on compassion, empathy, and tolerance. He illustrates how Springsteen has forced listeners to wrestle with the facts of rising poverty rates in the world's richest nation, of wars with questionable justification, and of the continued mistreatment of racial minorities, arguing that Springsteen does this by emphasizing the suffering that everyday people - usually ignored in mainline political discussions - endure on a daily basis.
By using Springsteen's life and music to shine a light on the dark recesses of America's most important political and social trials and conflicts race, religion, and working class hardship Working on a Dream connects readers with the power, purpose, and promise of Springsteen's extraordinary and enduring music.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) To tell you the truth, before reading David Masciotra's Working on a Dream, I had never really given much thought to the work of Bruce Springsteen; I mean, yes, I liked Born in the USA as much as any other teen in the '80s, and then later in my alt-country phase I became briefly obsessed with his '82 album Nebraska, but it had never really occurred to me that the man's total oeuvre might in fact be an amazingly dense and prescient look at both the past and future of the far-liberal Progressive movement, a school of thought that originated with Teddy Roosevelt and his peers over a century ago and that encompasses such diverse communities as the folk artists of the Great Depression, the Beat poets of the '50s, the hard-rockers of the '70s and the sophisticated indie sounds of today. But as Masciotra shows here in this thoughtful collection of essays, Springsteen has both been influenced by all of these communities and has commented on all of them in his own finished work, crafting a career that has morphed and adapted with the times, but that has never strayed far from the core Progressive values of peace, tolerance, fair practices, human rights, and the struggle against isolation and alienation. In fact, about the only complaint I have about this book has more to say about me than it, I think -- that as someone with a low tolerance for academic-style writing, I found myself often zoning out on these formal and analytical essays long before finishing them, always interesting theses but ones that for the most part went on just way too long for my tastes. Those with a bigger enjoyment for this type of writing, though, are sure to love this very smart albeit admittedly highly biased book (hint -- Tea Partiers should stay well away), and it comes recommended to those who enjoy astute if not overly wordy looks at the current culture around us. Out of 10: 8.0
Review: Working on a Dream: The Progressive Political Vision of Bruce SpringsteenUser Review - Goodreads
Mixed bag. Masciotra is a young Springsteen fan who very clearly hears and responds deeply to the central calls of Bruce's music. He places Springsteen's commitment to community at the center, where ...