Springsteen's New Album Is "Devastatingly Political"

This post, written by Bernie Heidkamp, originally appeared on PopPolitics

If I were asked to discuss the inspirations for PopPolitics, I could talk about all the great cultural critics who teach us to take pop culture seriously. But the deepest inspirations, I believe, are the great artists, the producers of pop culture, who never allow us to see their writing, directing, etc as simply entertainment -- who force us to recognize the human consequences -- the political consequences -- of their art.

They reveal these consequences -- not through didactic, overt rhetoric -- but by telling authentic stories that just happen to intervene in the social or political moment

Music, in particular, has been fertile ground. The continuum from jazz to hip hop has brought us Billie Holliday singing about the "Strange Fruit" of the Jim Crow South or Public Enemy and KRS-One speaking from a forgotten urban America. These artists have done more to raise our racial and class consciousness than any collection of academic studies or lectures ever could.

The music that is capturing my imagination at the moment, though, comes from a folk tradition, one that has brought the hobo lullabies of Woody Guthrie and the gritty poetry of Bob Dylan. Specifically, I'm talking about Bruce Springsteen, whose new album "Magic" has just hit stores this week.

The album is getting rave reviews (not to mention causing more than a few fans, like A.O. Scott of the New York Times, to use the opportunity for some humorous reminiscence and reconnection).

Most of the songs, from my own initial listen, are political allegories under the veil of intensely personal stories of relationships struggling to survive. That's what Bruce does best.

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