What's the Ascendancy of Bruce Springsteen Got to Do with the Dominance of Wal-Mart?
Well into his fourth decade of song-crafting prowess, and his third of life as a household name, Bruce Springsteen now stands at the pinnacle of singer-songwriter achievement: first sharing a stage with the Father of American Folk Music at the We Are One Concert on the National Mall, then rocking out a set of blue-collar anthems a scant two weeks later at the Super Bowl.
The Boss has earned it. From his rebuff of Reagan’s ham-fisted “Born in the U.S.A.” co-opt, to his protest of Amadou Diallo’s sanctioned murder by performing “41 Shots” in Madison Square Garden, Springsteen has made it clear that his is the music of the oppressed, the dissatisfied, the American underdog— making his misstep with Wal-Mart all the more confounding.
In an interview with Billboard, Mr. Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, defended the release, saying Mr. Springsteen’s albums were already in Wal-Mart, which accounts for 15 percent of his sales. He also said: “We’re not doing any advertising for Wal-Mart. We haven’t endorsed Wal-Mart or anybody else. We’re letting Sony do its job.”
Oh, okay... Had Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Landau conferred about Wal-Mart's disgusting pursuit of the last pennies of its brain-damaged former employee Debbie Shank? Had they been on a yacht somewhere the day that a Minnesota judge found that Wal-Mart had systematically abused Nancy Braun, Debbie Simonson, Cindy Severson, and Pamela Reinert, committing over two million violations of relevant labor law in the process? Were they distracted by a conference call with Columbia execs when Wal-Mart sent temporary employee Jdimytai Damour out to his death on Black Friday? How about the time the retail giant corralled all its employees into rooms all across the nation to tell them not to vote Democratic in the upcoming elections, or else?
Hey, no harm no foul, right? Bruce has now decided it was all a terrible mistake:
"We were in the middle of doing a lot of things, it kind of came down and, really, we didn't vet it the way we usually do," said the musician. "It was something that if we'd thought about it a little longer, we'd have done something different. Fans will call you on that stuff, as it should be," added Springsteen.
All things considered, maybe Wal-Mart is wishing it had never lured Springsteen into the deal in the first place. Who among Springsteen fans is going to brave one of those awful stores just to pick up a disc full of previously released tunes? Regardless of how much "vetting" Bruce might require to make his more lucrative decisions, true fans who ground their enthusiasm for the music in the struggle it represents know fully well: there is absolutely no difference between walking into a Wal-Mart and walking over a picket line.