A pair of wars. Corporate greed and political corruption. Financial inequality and a healthcare system that is, put simply, totally f**ked. Sometimes being an American can be a bummer. Enter Bruce Springsteen, who has slightly rejuvenated my spirit, if only for a moment, with his new video for “We Take Care of Our Own.” He steps up and asks the hard questions, and delivers a seething political message: “Yep, the country is in the gutter. But we can fix it. We’re Americans, dammit, and our spirit is resilient.” That Bruce.
The track—the first single from Springsteen’s upcoming album, Wrecking Bell, out March 6—is a bit like “Born in the U.S.A.,” whose sloganeering chorus disguises a sad story of a guy who’s sent to Vietnam, where he watches his friends die, and then can’t get a job at the local refinery when he returns. Almost 30 years later, the Boss reprises his role.
Springsteen ironically sings “We take care of our own” on the tune’s catchy chorus, then adds politically loaded lines like, “Ain’t no hope / The cavalry stayed home” and “I been looking for the map that leads me home” and “The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone” and “Where are the hearts that run over with mercy?” Each lyric is onscreen for extra impact. Then there’s Bruce strumming in an empty factory. Bruce strumming on the roof. Bruce walking the cold and lonely streets. This, all cut with downtrodden images of Americans, from a grocery store clerk to homeless bag lady.
It’s a impactful video and song, and I’m not even a Springsteen fan. In fact, I mostly dislike his music, honestly. But I admire the guy for asking, “Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea?” Good question.