The Rake

HYMNS OF THE REPUBLIC

We get him now, of course, but in September 1984, Bruce Springsteen must have felt like the most misunderstood man in America. Every musician wants a hit, but the success of his album , then on its way to selling 15 million copies and reaching far beyond his usual fan base, had provoked reactions he could never have expected. Anyone who listened to the title track with any attention would see that, beside the stadium chant of its chorus, this was a protest song: the blue-collar guy who’s sent off to returns to find he can’t get a job in the refinery and is left with . What Springsteen hadn’t realised is that most people don’t listen with attention, which is why lately he’d begun to see stars-and-stripes flags at his concerts. Now Ronald Reagan, a right-wing president seeking re-election, was aligning himself with the song and with Bruce himself, talking about how “America’s

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