Working on a Dream: The Progressive Political Vision of Bruce Springsteen

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Bloomsbury, Jan 28, 2010 - Music - 266 pages
7 Reviews
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 Review

User Review  - jasonpettus - LibraryThing

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) To ... Read full review

Review: Working on a Dream: The Progressive Political Vision of Bruce Springsteen

User Review  - Craig Werner - 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 ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

David Masciotra has written for Z Magazine, the Catholic Worker, the Humanist, PopMatters, and the Herald News in Joliet, Illinois where he was a weekly political columnist. He is a graduate student at Valparaiso University, and lives in Indiana. For more information see

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