[Editor’s note: My 16-year-old cousin gave me the letter below to pass along to Bruce Spingsteen via SPIN.com.]
Word is you’ve got another album on the way. I even read somewhere that you’re planning to release it for President Obama’s January inauguration. This may or may not be true, but the fact that it could be seriously suggested proves that you are very important and highly esteemed. By comparison, Bob Seger is happy when Kid Rock returns his calls.
Since you’ve become so involved with politics over the last few years, I thought I’d propose a proposal to you. Don’t worry; it’s not political in nature. It’s not like I expect you to text Obama and tell him that someone needs to clear the wet leaves from Carroll Street between 5th and 6th avenues in Brooklyn because some guy might slip and fall on them just when a cute girl from the neighborhood is walking in his direction while carrying a vinyl copy of Deep Purple’s In Rock, which meant he finally had, and lost, the opportunity to make conversation.
Actually, could you do me a solid?
Where was I? Oh yeah, I was about to explain how you should change your music. I know you’ve sold a bajillion records, but everyone knows that America is ready for change, and you, New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen, are America. I think Ronald Reagan said something like that once. Ronald Reagan is a great American hero with an airport named after him. Quid pro quo, you need to change.
Here’s how: Keep it simple, stupid. You can do this by dumbing down. You’re obviously a smart guy. Your lyrics have finely-observed journalistic details. Your metaphors are apt and well wrought. You sing about social inequality, war, and soulless corporate media. Yet your songs about girls and cars kick the caboose of your songs about destitute Mexican meth cookers and the opacity plaguing American political discourse.
You’ve become so firmly entrenched as America’s rock’n’roll chronicler, that you’re in danger of becoming a caricature. When I watched the YouTube video for your new song “Working on a Dream” and got to the part where you started whistling, I assumed you arrived at that whistle via something similar to the following decision-making process: “This song is about workin’, dreamin’, and changin’. In that way, it’s sorta like America. Well, America is a shining beacon of democracy, and there ain’t nothin’ more democratic’n whistlin’. From Wall Street to Main Street, every man, woman, and child kin whistle. Whistlin’ about change — that’s America.” ‘Cept when the Scorpions do it in “Winds of Change.”
Instead, I propose the following thought process: How can this song get me laid?
Brucie, baby, nobody can unengrave your face from Mt. Rockmore. You have nothing to lose by writing “Re-Born to Run” or “Hungrier Heart” or “Born Again in the U.S.A.” The sweet embrace of crass commercialism is yours to gain. Aside from whistling, what could be more American than that?
In closing: Yes we can!