Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Change Rocks

Here's an article from backstreets.com re: the Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel fundraiser for Obama in NYC. Best line in the story comes from Barack himself: "The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen."


Benefit at NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom brings together Bruce and Billy -- and Barack

At the "Change Rocks" benefit concert in support of Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel joined forces, the favorite sons of New Jersey and Long Island meeting in Manhattan to co-headline a show that also featured John Legend and India.Arie. Caroline Kennedy introduced the artists, and Bruce had a few more words before the performances began -- first of all, about the undercard: "Billy and I thought we could sing until we heard India and John rehearsing earlier. We're just pretending." As for the main event, Bruce described it as a historic meeting of New Jersey and Long Island, suggesting (as you might imagine from this old demi-rivalry) that it wasn't the smoothest of collaborations: "I like to rehearse, Billy doesn't." He went on to joke that the whole affair was somewhat Palin-esque: "A lot of last-minute cramming and confident presentation... faking it like you really know what you're doing, but you don’t. Hopefully no one will leave the room screaming like in rehearsals!"

Legend opened with his majestic solo piano take on U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)," and was soon joined by Bruce, Patti Scialfa, and India.Arie for his new song, "If You're Out There." After short sets from Legend and Arie, Bruce was back for a little acoustic set of his own, with solo readings of "The Promised Land" and "This Hard Land." In between he gave a version of his recent Vote for Change stump speech, saying that electing Obama was just the beginning to "taking back our country," and that it would take everyone "from Jersey, Long Island, and all points west" to rebuild this hard land. Joel followed with his band (which would be the backing band for the rest of the evening) for two of his own songs, "Miami 2017" and "Baby Grand."

The main event featured the Boss and the Piano Man together. Backed by Joel's band, along with Patti and E Street pianist Roy Bittan, Springsteen and Joel traded off songs from their deep catalogs, opening with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" and closing with "River of Dreams." On "Tenth," Bruce sang, "They made that change uptown and the Piano Man joined the band..." and "when Jersey and Long Island bust this city in half!" Joel dedicated "Movin' Out" to George Bush and Dick Cheney. On "Thunder Road," simultaneous piano action from Billy ("I like this one!") and Roy. This was truly a blended set -- not only trading off songs, but trading off verses as they sang on each other's songs. Bruce was surprised that Billy didn't know "Spirit in the Night" -- he called out chords throughout -- but was really into his own verse on "New York State of Mind," a highlight of the night. Legend and Arie joined in as well, singing on "Spirit," "The Rising," and "Glory Days."

In the encore, one more Bruce tune: "Born to Run," Bruce leaping onto Billy's piano -- with permission! -- and the pair sharing a hug, Billy giving Bruce a kiss on the cheek. "People Get Ready" spotlighted all of the evening's performers, who then brought Barack Obama to the stage. Some inspiring words from Obama himself, who also offered plenty of praise for the night's artists:

I want to thank John, India, all the wonderful musicians, and especially the two giants -- Bruce and Billy -- that I grew up listening to, and whose songs give a voice to ordinary folks that go to work each day wondering how they are going to pay all their bills and afford healthcare. They write inspiring songs about the problems of everyday heroes that have been ignored for far too long by those in Washington, and that is what this campaign has been all about. I thank them for bringing all of you here together tonight. We have a lot of work to do in the next 18 days. So call your neighbors and e-mail all your friends and keep this great spirit from this room going until election day. One voice can inspire and change the mood of a room, can inspire and change the mood of a city, can inspire and change the mood of a state, can inspire and change the mood of a country, and can inspire and change the mood of the world.

Obama also revelaed that, backstage as they were listening to the show, he told his wife: "The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen." The night closed with "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," Legend taking lead, with Obama and his wife Michelle dancing and clapping along.


Anonymous said...

Billy Joel said that his political opinions were his own- and he would "keep it in the sanctity of the voting booth.

AND he had tickets to sell.

Well Billy- I guess you were
1. Lying
2. Listening to your baby wife.

YOUR fans will NOT buy tickets, CDs, books- or anything else from you since you showed your left-wing colors.

You should have stayed out of politics.
We will NOT forgive you.

Anonymous said...

To Alec - Who the hell did you think Billy Joel was in the first place? If you weren't able to discern his obvious and consistent political point of view from his song lyrics, you must be deaf. This country is based on tolerance, freedom of thought, and the right to vote for the candidate of one's choice. Your self-righteousness, your threats and your name-calling reveal you to be the apothesis of all that is un-American. Shame on you.

Jennifer said...

I love that in this country you can both say whatever you want without fear of backlash! God bless America!

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