Bruce Springsteen said this week that his new album Wrecking Ball was inspired by an “angry patriotism” that drew fuel from the Occupy movement.
Speaking to a group of journalists at the Theatre Marigny in Paris, Springsteen described how the financial crisis, income inequality, and other hot-button political issues informed Wrecking Ball, which paints a picture of an America that has failed the working class.
“My work has always been about judging the distance between American reality and the American Dream–how far is that at any given moment,” Springsteen said. Judging by the album’s tenor, he believes the gap has only become wider in recent years.
In one song, “Easy Money,” a down-on-his luck protagonist goes on a robbing spree out of desperation. “He’s imitating your guys on Wall Street the only way he knows how,” Springsteen said.
In “Shackled And Drawn,” Springsteen sings that, “Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bill/Still fat and easy on Banker’s Hill.” And the album’s lead single, “We Take Care Of Our Own,” features lyrics like, “”From the shotgun shack to the Superdome/ There ain’t no help, the cavalry stayed home.”
The idea of a wrecking ball “sort of seemed like a metaphor for what had occurred; it’s an image where something is destroyed to build something new–the flat destruction of some fundamental American values and ideas that occurred, really, in the last 30 years,” Springsteen said.
Rolling Stone has a more detailed analysis of the album’s angry message.
In a later interview with The Guardian, Springsteen delved into detail about the current state of American politics, crediting the Occupy movement for shifting America’s focus to the country’s real economic problems: The Guardian reports:
Springsteen, 62, says he is not afraid of how the album will be received in election-year America: “The temper has changed. And people on the streets did it. Occupy Wall Street changed the national conversation â the Tea Party had set it for a while. The first three years of Obama were under them.
“Previous to Occupy Wall Street, there was no push back at all saying this was outrageous â a basic theft that struck at the heart of what America was about, a complete disregard for the American sense of history and community…”
And even if the album is a bit more strident than Springsteen fans are used to, the star brushed aside concerns with a music-business truism: “You never go wrong with ‘pissed off’ in rock and roll.”