Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen

I can still remember how incredulous my gay male friends were when they heard that Bruce Springsteen of all people was going to contribute a song to the soundtrack of the 1994 film Philadelphia, which was all about AIDS and homophobia. (Springsteen would go on to win an Academy Award for his efforts.)

That incredulity extended to an interviewer for The Advocate, who had the temerity to ask why.

Springsteen - as anyone who's ever actually listened to his music would know - is a sensitive observer of the human condition. Writing songs and playing guitar is no way to win friends in high school (or it wasn't in late-1960s suburban New Jersey, at least according to him), and in the interview he recounted the frequent bouts of name-calling and scuffles on the playground he'd encountered.

Gay or not, he's one of us, since... Well, when it comes to teenage boys, we all know their epithet of choice, and without going into detail Springsteen made it clear that he'd been called it as much as anyone. The implication was also that he'd maybe been roughed up a little, too; rather than turning him against us, though, Springsteen's own encounters with homophobia made him into an instant ally.

Of course, I'd also remembered reading in Rolling Stone that when Ronald Reagan personally asked to use Springsteen's Born in the USA as his campaign song in 1984 Springsteen told him that the song was actually a criticism of Reagan and his policies. I'd always liked him, but the moment I read that was the moment I became a lifelong fan of Bruce Springsteen.

Happy Birthday, Boss!
share on: facebook

No comments: