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With 300 entries (plus sidebars) and 100 photos (many previously unpublished), this is the first book that systematically and objectively chronicles Springsteen's life and music. Plus, The Ties That Bind provides lists of concert appearances, television appearances, and E Street Band tribute bands and tribute albums; the text of Springsteen's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame speeches; and a lyric index, amid other comprehensive indexing. Damon Gough (Badly Drawn Boy) and Mike Mills (of R.E.M.) each contribute nicely written forewords.
Film industry honors
The Academy Awards have been presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1929. They honor achievements in film and film-related activities, including music. Bruce Springsteen entered the Oscar realm with songs for two socially conscious films. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1994 for "Streets of Philadelphia."
The song was written for Jonathan Demme's 1993 film Philadelphia, about a lawyer (played by Tom Hanks, who won an Oscar for his performance) fired by his law firm when it is revealed he is dying of AIDS. Springsteen's song mentions AIDS only obliquely, but it is ultimately a much-needed plea for understanding of the disease and those who suffer from it. The song was a Top 10 hit and also won four Grammy Awards.
Springsteen was again nominated in the Best Song category for the title track to Tim Robbins's 1995 capital punishment film Dead Man Walking. It lost to "Colors of the Wind," a song from Disney's animated blockbuster Pocahontas. -DD
Alabama 3. See A3. Zachary Alford. See 1992-93 Bruce Springsteen Touring Band.
Alliance of Neighbors Concerts
Fundraising concerts for Monmouth County, New Jersey, victims of September 11 terrorist attacks, October 18 and 19, 2001
Bruce Springsteen opted not to perform at two major concerts held the third weekend of October 2001 related to the September 11 terrorist attacks-the Paul McCartney-organized Concert for New York City at Madison Square Garden and What More Can I Give? in Washington, D.C. Instead he stayed home and played three benefit shows for the Alliance of Neighbors, a charity founded to assist the families of September 11 victims from Monmouth County, New Jersey. Springsteen was joined by fellow Monmouth County resident Jon Bon Jovi along with Joan Jett, the Rascals' Felix Cavaliere, former members of Elvis Presley's band, Phoebe Snow, John Eddie, Joe Ely, the Smithereens, and others. E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent was the music director for the shows. Two shows, with tickets priced from $50 to $500, were originally scheduled; one was slated for October 20, the same night as the Concert for New York City, and was moved to not conflict with that event and its live VH1 broadcast. An open rehearsal was subsequently added for the afternoon of October 18 in order to allow younger children from the victims' families to see the performers, and the front section of seats was held especially for them.
On each of the two nights, Springsteen sang "Tiger Rose" with the Elvis crew-Sonny Burgess, Jerry Scheff, D.J. Fontana, and Kevin Kennedy-"All Just to Get to You" with Ely, and "Light of Day" with Jett. For his own short set, Springsteen was backed by E Streeters Tallent, drummer Max Weinberg, and wife Patti Scialfa on "Bobby Jean," "Land of Hope and Dreams," and "Thunder Road," while the Pilgrim Baptist Church Celestial Choir joined for "My City of Ruins." Springsteen also led the full-company ensemble version of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" that closed the shows.
An estimated $700,000-plus was raised by the shows, which was broadcast to cable subscribers in the Northeast. -GG
College professor, author, political and media columnist
A plethora of Bruce Springsteen biographies were already on the market when Eric Alterman published It Ain't No Sin to Be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen in 1999. But Alterman's entry-which won the 1999 Stephen Crane Literary Award-earned special praise from reviewers and peers for going beyond the traditional format and placing Springsteen and his music in a greater level of cultural context, making it the most widely praised Springsteen tome next to Dave Marsh's biographies and, of course, Springsteen's own Songs.
As the media critic of The Nation, Queens, New York, native Alterman has written frequently about Springsteen, including one essay entitled "Boss of My Hometown." He's also written several other books about the media and politics, including the award-winning Sound & Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy in 1992, Who Speaks for America? Why Democracy Matters in Foreign Policy in 1998, What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News in 2003, The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America (with Mark Green) in 2004, and also in 2004, When Presidents Lie: A History of Deception and Its Consequences. He's written columns for Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and other periodicals, and he publishes a regular blog, "Altercation," for MSNBC's website.
Alterman's day job is in academia, however. With a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University, he's an English professor at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and a senior fellow at both the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan research institute "dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America," and at the World Policy Institute at New School University in Manhattan. -GG
"America: A Tribute to Heroes"
September 11 benefit telethon broadcast September 21, 2001
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., the entertainment industry mobilized for an unprecedented cooperative effort-"America: A Tribute to Heroes," which was carried on all three major networks and any other broadcast outlet that wished to participate. The telethon was viewed by nearly sixty million people and raised an estimated $150 million for the September 11th Telethon Fund, which distributed money to related charities. Bruce Springsteen opened the two-hour program with "My City of Ruins," a song he had originally written about the decline of Asbury Park, New Jersey; he recorded it with the E Street Band during sessions in the fall of 2000 and debuted it on December 17, 2000, at one of the Asbury Park holiday shows. Springsteen intended to perform a new song, "Into the Fire," on the show, but he felt it wasn't complete enough to perform (he finished it in time to include on 2002's The Rising). Altering the lyrics slightly, he performed "My City of Ruins" surrounded by candles at Sony International Recording studio in Manhattan, accompanied by his wife, Patti Scialfa, E Street Band members Steve Van Zandt and Clarence Clemons, Scialfa's former Trickster bandmates Soozie Tyrell (who would later join the E Street Band on The Rising tour) and Lisa Lowell, and Dee and Layonne Holmes from Holiday Express, a charity based in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Also taking part in "America: A Tribute to Heroes" were Neil Young (on his own and with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder), Billy Joel, U2 (with Nelly Furtado and Eurythmics' Dave Stewart), Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews, members of Limp Bizkit and the Goo Goo Dolls, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, Enrique Iglesias, and Bon Jovi, along with actors such as Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Chris Rock, Jimmy Smits, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, and Robin Williams. The event was preserved on an album and DVD, with proceeds from sales also going to the charitable fund. -GG
American Music Masters
Educational series at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland kicked off its annual American Music Masters series in September 1996 with a ten-day celebration of the life and music of folk legend Woody Guthrie. Bruce Springsteen, then on his solo acoustic tour to promote The Ghost of Tom Joad, headlined the celebration's grand finale, an all-star tribute concert on September 29 at Cleveland's Severance Hall. The event was hosted by actor Tim Robbins and also featured Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, the Indigo Girls, Billy Bragg, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Ani DiFranco, Joe Ely, Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, and others. Springsteen opened his set with Guthrie's "Tom Joad," then teamed with Texas singer-songwriter Ely on a rollicking version of "Going Down the Road (I Ain't Going to Be Treated This Way)." The pair was later joined by Arlo Guthrie for a romp around "Oklahoma Hills." Springsteen, whose forty-minute set was the longest of the evening, lightened the mood with a funny take on Guthrie's children's song, "Riding in My Car (Car Song)," sang a powerful rendition of "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)," and capped his set with one of his own songs, "Across the Border." Springsteen came back for the show's encore, an all-star jam that featured sing-along renditions of Guthrie's "Hard Travelin'," "I Got to Know," "Hobo's Lullabye," and, of course, "This Land Is Your Land."
The E Street Band's rhythm section, drummer Max Weinberg and Garry Tallent, were part of the following year's American Music Masters tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, performing at separate shows that also included Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Ricky Skaggs, Iris Dement, John Prine, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Levon Helm, Junior Brown, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. -MN
"American Skin (41 Shots)"
Controversial song inspired by 1999 Amadou Diallo shooting in New York City
With the title track of 1984's Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen experienced the radical misinterpretation of one of his songs. But it was not accompanied with the kind of vitriol that greeted "American Skin (41 Shots)," which he premiered on June 4, 2000, at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The song was inspired by an incident on February 4, 1999, in New York's Bronx borough, when four police officers fired forty-one shots at unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, who didn't understand the officers' instructions; speculation is that he thought they were asking for ID and was reaching for his wallet, but they thought he was going for a weapon. Nineteen of the bullets hit him, killing Diallo and sparking allegations of excessive force and racial profiling. In February 2000, the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing, resulting in even more public debate.
Springsteen wrote "American Skin" about more than just the Diallo shooting, though the song makes several direct references to it. But it made a broader thematic statement about decision and consequences; the New York Times described it as "a resonant elegy and a reflection on how fear can become deadly." "Because a lot had been written about the case in magazines and newspapers," Springsteen explained later, "I was just setting out to basically continue writing about things that I'd written about for a long period of time, which is, Who are we? What's it mean to be an American? What's going on in this country we live in? It was asking some questions that were hanging very heavy in the air ... And it was extension of just a lot of my other work." He added, however, "I think it dealt very directly with race, and that's a subject that pushes a lot of buttons in America." That it did-especially in the New York police community.
After sound-checking the song several times, Springsteen and the E Street Band rolled it out at the June 4 Atlanta show and it was promptly posted on file-sharing Internet sites, with the media picking up on it as well. The first police reaction came from Patrick Lynch, president of the 27,000-member Patrolmen's Benevolent Association; though he hadn't heard the song, Lynch posted a letter on the organization's website on June 8 accusing Springsteen of "trying to fatten his wallet by reopening the wounds of this tragic case" and urging New York officers to neither attend nor work as moonlighting security guards at Springsteen's upcoming ten-show stand at Madison Square Garden. New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir told the New York Daily News, "I personally don't care for Bruce Springsteen's music or his song," while Bob Lucente, president of the New York State Fraternal Order of Police, called Springsteen a "fucking dirtbag" and declared, "He goes on the boycott list."
Other police factions came to Springsteen's defense. A group called 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement spoke out in support of him, with spokesman Lt. Eric Adams telling the Associated Press, "We commend Bruce Springsteen, and we believe that he is courageous in the position that he is taking." Another police lieutenant, Michael J. Gorman, wrote a letter to the New York Times noting, "[T]rying to muzzle those who refer to this tragedy is wrong. Mr. Springsteen has generally been a supporter of police officers, giving generously to police charities. Attacks on him are not only unfair but also counterproductive." A New York patrolman, meanwhile, brought a sign to one of the Garden shows that declared, "Here sits a NYC policeman who still loves Bruce!!" (Springsteen spotted him and said from the stage "Now there's a sign I like!")
For his part, Springsteen said he was "surprised ... there were so many people willing to comment so quickly about something they've never heard. That was just somewhat puzzling to me, because we'd only played the song once, in Atlanta, and there was no recorded version of it ... There was a lot of misrepresentation and comment about something that I don't think a lot of people had heard, and the song wound up being misrepresented by quite a few people." Springsteen played the song, without comment, at each of the ten Madison Square Garden shows, and he included it on his Live in New York City album and DVD in 2001. After the first night's show, on June 12, he met with Diallo's parents, who expressed their appreciation for the song. -GG
Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour
Following its successful (but short) Conspiracy of Hope tour in 1986 featuring U2 and the Police, Amnesty International had loftier goals to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights document. A longer tour was in order, one that criss-crossed the globe rather than just playing in North America. Bruce Springsteen agreed to headline the jaunt, which ran from September 2 in London, England, to October 15 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Springsteen announced his involvement in the Human Rights Now! tour during his internationally broadcast Tunnel of Love Express concert in Stockholm, Sweden. Springsteen told the crowd he'd be joining Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, and Youssou N'Dour, then played a rendition of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" that was subsequently released on an EP, the proceeds of which went to Amnesty International. (Other tracks on the EP included live version of "Tougher Than the Rest," "Be True," and the acoustic "Born to Run.")
The nineteen shows on the tour marked Springsteen and the E Street Band's first-ever performances in Africa, India, and South America. Each concert began with the tour participants singing Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up." Springsteen's set was much shorter than usual, ranging from seventy to eighty minutes, which fans were ambivalent about; it wasn't nearly long enough for the Bruceheads, of course, but they were undeniably intense and passionate, given to occasional surprises such as Woody Guthrie's "I Ain't Got No Home." The full cast trooped on stage again at the end of Springsteen's sets for "Chimes of Freedom."
Springsteen and Sting, who had taken part in the Conspiracy of Hope tour, became fast friends during Human Rights Now! Early in the tour Sting began joining Springsteen each night to sing on "The River." Within two weeks Springsteen was also part of Sting's set, joining for the Police hit "Every Breath You Take." "I think there were friendships forged on that tour that have lasted to the present day," Sting recalls. "For the first time in any of our careers, we were kind of forced to share the bubble-sharing hotels, sharing the plane, sharing dressing rooms, sharing the stage. It made us feel much less isolated than you normally feel as a sort of rock icon. We'll all say it was our favorite tour ever; it was just so much fun to play with your peers."
There were musical highlights beyond the Sting duets. The Tunnel of Love Express horn section rejoined the E Streeters for the September 19 stop in Philadelphia. U2's Bono, sporting a cowboy hat, was a guest for "Chimes of Freedom" on September 21 in Los Angeles. Gabriel led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to Springsteen at the September 23 show in Oakland, California; at the same show Springsteen joined Joan Baez for Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." Other musicians-including original E Street Band keyboardist David Sancious (then in Gabriel's band), as well as violinist Shankar and percussionist Mino Cinelu from Sting's band became adjunct E Street Band members most nights. And at the final show in Buenos Aires-which was aired live on radio and filmed for an HBO special-Gabriel and Sting dressed up as Springsteen in black vests, jeans, and boots for a joyous "Twist and Shout" finale.
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