Rock That Wall!

I’m not here for or against any government. I’ve come to play rock’n'roll for you, in the hope that one day all the /barriers will be torn down….

Bruce Springsteen turns sixty-four today. In Rocking the Wall, one of a half-dozen recent books about Springsteen, Erik Kirschbaum tells the story of “The Berlin Concert That Changed the World” — Springsteen and the E Street band appearing before some 300,000 in East Berlin in July 1988, sixteen months before the Wall fell. After his inspirational speech (above, but delivered in German), Springsteen played Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom,” the crowd went wild, and as Kirschbaum documents, the nation soon followed:

“We all got the message, and it was electrifying,” said Jörg Beneke, a thirty-four-year-old farmer in 1988, who drove halfway across East Germany with a friend that morning to see the concert. “Everyone knew exactly what he was talking about…. It was a nail in the coffin for East Germany. We had never heard anything like that from anyone inside East Germany. That was the moment some of us had been waiting a lifetime to hear….

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.