Bruce Springsteen’s Disappointment With The American Dream

Art is not always a means of expressing emotions. It’s also a way of protesting or conveying a message about social, cultural, and political issues. Looking through the history of rock, many names did this well, like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and of course, Bruce Springsteen. Throughout his music career, the singer combined the rock sound with narratives about working-class American life. Many of his songs feature socially conscious lyrics with a poetic approach.

Springsteen has also been pretty outspoken about the political state of America. He supported former President Barack Obama and appeared at several rallies to support him. During his speeches, the rocker highlighted the importance of equality, the dignity of work, and the protection of the rights of Americans. Moreover, the Boss harshly criticized Donald Trump throughout his presidency, claiming he didn’t know the true meaning of being an American.

In many of his songs, Bruce Springsteen romanticized American themes and employed various American myths into his pieces. The cover of his ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ featured a picture of the Boss facing the American flag and ended up being one of the most iconic album covers. It’s safe to say that Springsteen touched the hearts of Americans with his songs throughout the years. However, the singer didn’t always praise American nationalism — in fact, he saw the corruption of the American dream at some point.

Speaking to Grammy’s Robert Santelli in 2014, Bruce Springsteen expressed his thoughts on his 2012 album ‘Wrecking Ball.’ Following its release, the album was noted by various sources as the angriest album of Springsteen. In ‘Wrecking Ball,’ the Boss expressed his frustration about the forces that brought America to the brink of a financial crisis. He has written numerous songs about characters struggling with economic issues, but this album received much more attention for its tone.

“Yeah, I suppose it is,” Springsteen said, confirming ‘Wrecking Ball’ was one of his angriest albums to date. “There’s a lot to be angry about, you know. The distortion and corruption of the American dream and a certain way of life, the loss of the full meaning of community. To me, those things felt under attack. My concern was that this all added up to a nation in decline.”

He continued, revealing what inspired him while making the album, “Like other people, I know folks who were affected by the financial crisis, who lost their homes, lost their retirement savings. So it was all very, very real for me. You can have these feelings of frustration and not be able to write about it. That happened to me before. But in this case, I was working on another record that wasn’t about those things. Then I wrote a song that moved in that direction, and the rest came very quickly.”

Bruce Springsteen wrote ‘Wrecking Ball’ when the financial crisis had shaken the U.S. and world economies to their core. The opening track ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ and ‘Death to My Hometown’ expresses his frustration and targets Wall Street bankers for being the reason for the crisis. ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ has a more religious and hopeful theme revolving around Springsteen’s outlook on the American dream.

Apparently, Springsteen believed that there were many things to be angry about when he wrote ‘Wrecking Ball,’ especially the corruption of the American dream. He thought the feelings of community and the American way of life were under attack, causing the nation to decline. According to the Boss, he couldn’t help but write about those things as he witnessed first-hand how Americans had struggled.