Campfire Blog

Tramps Like Us, Born to Argue

Bruce Springsteen won’t give his biggest fan the time of day, but Gov. Chris Christie remains loyal, praising much of Springsteen’s worldview while disagreeing with his policy ideas

It’s a shame when politics gets in the way of enjoying great music. New Jersey Chris Christie refuses to let this happen, openly enjoying himself at Bruce Springsteen concerts even though the Boss refuses to give his governor the time of day.

If you’re of a fan of Christie, Springsteen, or both, you seriously should read all of Jeffrey Goldberg’s 6 page piece in The Atlantic on “the governor and the Boss—a tale of politics, rock and roll, and unrequited love.”

Mostly told from Christie’s perspective, because Springsteen did not agree to an interview, the story vividly captures New Jersey’s chief executive in his element in the luxury box at a Springsteen concert. Arms around members of his cabinet, he sings along to every song, even the more obscure ones. And unlike Jon Corzine, his gubernatorial predecessor, he never leaves a show early. Like a true fan, he even gives a staffer grief for wanting to leave early due to a legislative hearing the next morning. Christie comes across as a completely regular American, without affectation or pretense, just having a good ol’ time listening to his favorite band.

Some might find this odd. Springsteen is an outspoken liberal who sings about the woes of the working class; Christie is the most plain-talking Republican politician in the nation and the enemy of leftist unions. But Christie sees beyond the politics. When Springsteen gets all political during his shows, Christie laughs it off as “lecture time” and continues to enjoy himself.

But it goes deeper than that. Christie doesn’t just like the sound of Springsteen; he agrees with a lot of what he says in his songs, just not in the musician’s policy prescriptions. They see the same problem:  how not enough Americans have the opportunity to thrive. But they have vastly different solutions. And Christie, for his part, is actually improving lives by pushing through reforms in the Garden State, especially in his efforts to get rid of bad teachers who only limit their students’ opportunities.

Goldberg quotes the governor philosophizing about Springsteen at length—all worth reading. In particular, Christie praises Bruce for fulfilling what he wrote about in “Born to Run”—trying to escape tough circumstances to achieve something:

“If you talk to folks who have associated with him, he is, from a business perspective, a no-nonsense capitalist. He runs his business like a capitalist, he’s the boss, he’s in charge, he’s the one who makes the most money, he determines how much money everybody else makes. He knows about budgets.”

Goldberg suggests to Christie that maybe Springsteen is hypocritical for staying in the Four Seasons, as he does when traveling. Given Springsteen’s rants against capitalism and the wealthy, Christie could easily have agreed. But he takes the high road, saying,

“Your Four Seasons thing isn’t fair. Why wouldn’t you stay in a Four Seasons if you could afford to? Who would rather stay in a Residence Inn by Marriott if you could afford to be more comfortable in a Four Seasons? I think he’s the personification of the American dream: the kid from Freehold whose father had nothing but a bunch of very difficult and seemingly unsatisfying jobs, and a mother who was a working-class office worker, and now he’s one of the wealthiest people in music. He should enjoy it. What’s funny is that his progression is what Republicans believe can happen. That’s what Republicans believe—hard work, talent, ambition. We all know he’s the hardest-working man in show business. It’s a meritocracy.”

Read the whole article (6.5 pages)—and find out the one word that the politician who loves talking about music believes seperates him from the musician who loves talking about politics. You can also listen to the governor’s top ten favorite Springsteen songs for free.


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