Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Done: "Bruce Springsteen: rocking the wall" by Erik Kirschbaum

Done: Bruce Springsteen: rocking the wall by Erik Kirschbaum, 2013, 9781935902737.

Committee book.  I wonder if wall should be capitalized in the subtitle. Not sure how this became a committee book, maybe Kirschbaum went to UW.  This copy came from King County Library System in Seattle.

Kirschbaum took a taxi ride after a '02 Springsteen concert in Berlin and the cab driver waxed on about the '88 concert.  Kirschbaum was intrigued.  Kirschbaum spoke to concert organizers and attendees and used past interviews by Springsteen and his manager.  An interesting story told in 136 pages.

The summer concert happened right in the middle of glasnost.  The East German government was not opening up like the Russkies.  A very popular Soviet news magazine was even banned in East Germany because it was too open.  But, there was a push to offer more activities - like concerts - as a steam valve for agitating youngsters.  There were a couple other concerts in East Berlin - Bryan Adams for example - but Springsteen was still at the height of his '80s popularity and a very biggest of big deals.

The state organized youth group decided to ask Springsteen if he would play on his European tour.  Luckily for them Springsteen had wanted to play East Berlin ever since he visited the city as a tourist during his '82(?) tour.  Springsteen's '88 tour had an opening and they booked a date.

The concert came off very well.  The crowd was huge at about 300,000 - depending on the crowd estimate you like best.  The sound system was poor and the video screen was poor but the crowd was tightly packed and enthusiastic.  There were so many people traveling to the concert that the gates were opened up for everyone to enter the grounds.

Kirschbaum tries to tie-in the concert as a watermark of freedom in East Berlin.  That Springsteen's vague call for political and social freedom may have been the boost to the collpase of East German communism.  Well, okay, maybe Kirschbaum is not that obvious.  But, the entire concert was broadcast on DDR TV and radio and was right in the mix of the changes.  This was one of the first times when people gathered in huge public crowds that were not state ordered or organized.  The crowd was celebrating music that was previously tightly controlled or banned.

Kirschbaum covers some of the minor dramas.  The concert was entitled Concert for Nicaragua and Springsteen was not happy about that.  Bruce did not want to be used by any political group.  Springsteen's mid-concert mini-speech in German was altered to change the word "wall" to "barrier".  Everyone knew what he was saying anyway.

1. Kirschbaum said the full concert is online.  He posted some links but I did not bother with that and just did a search.  The search also brought up a Kickstarter campaign by Kirschbaum for this book. I did listen to some of the tunes from the concert but did not see a full, unbroken concert video.
2.  Kirschbaum spoke to the student who danced on stage with Springsteen for Dancing in the Dark.  Let me say that I was intrigued by woman's bra-less, tank top attire.

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