Magazine article The Nation

Guthrie's Ghost

Magazine article The Nation

Guthrie's Ghost

Article excerpt

At a recent benefit concert, Bruce Springsteen dedicated his final song to the "Gingrich mob" that is creating a more divided nation. He then played "The Ghost of Tom Joad," the tide track of his new album. This haunting cut is an unemployed homeless man's lament: "Welcome to the new world order/Families sleepin' in their cars in the Southwest/No homes no jobs no peace no rest."

Under a highway bridge, by a campfire this fellow searches for the spirit of Tom Joad, the son of the Depression-scarred clan of The Grapes of Wrath who is radicalized by the injustice he and his kin encounter. The album is ft" with a profound empathy for the working-class citizens and immigrants who have no place in Newt Gingrich's America. In "Youngstown," a down-and-out former steelworker says, "Now sir you tell me the world's changed/Once I made you rich enough/Rich enough to forget my name." Springsteen chronicles the plight of undocumented Mexican farmworkers recruited by drug dealers for the deadly task of mixing methamphetamine. He sings of those driven to leave their homeland. At a time of increasing income disparity - when the right distracts with immigrant-bashing - Springsteen, rock and roll's populist, offers an eloquent reminder of what economically dispossessed angry white men and desperate brown border-crossers share.

The music is as stark as the terrain he contemplates. It is eerily quiet, mostly just his voice and acoustic guitar, perhaps a bit thin for commercial tastes. …

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