When precisely did it become socially tolerable for hipsters to openly embrace The Boss? As a generation perhaps best defined by its seemingly limitless reclamation of the desperately "uncool" as cultural compass, Bruce Springsteen has somehow felt like an island of insurmountable unhipness--the last bastion, along with country music of the 1980s, that the Winger-T'ed masses wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. Not that the hipster populous necessarily considers Bruce untalented, or even irrelevant really--it's just that... it doesn't get much less hip than "Glory Days." For years, this has been a social understanding I've been perfectly content with, as it kept hipster swine from tarnishing my love for New Jersey's most beloved son--but since the turn of this last century, I've been picking up an increasing number of hints that we are at last approaching the final continental drift of post-irony. For example, in the past four years, I have seen no less than four semi-prominent indierock lesbians covering Springsteen in concert--and for whatever reason, I've learned to trust the cultural compass of hip lesbians. At first I was a little bummed about all of this, but in the spirit of The Boss' populist vision (though unfortunately not populist enough to charge less than $75 a ticket), I've decided to embrace it. Here's the Top Six reasons why it's okay to like ol' Bruce:
1. Cool People Like The Boss! Back in 1978, the same year Springsteen released Darkness on the Edge of Town (which is, incidentally, one of the hottest record covers ever), he and fellow Jersey native Patti Smith co-wrote "Because the Night"--the only true hit Patti ever mustered. That same year, Bruce made an uncredited (and totally awesome) spoken-word appearance on the title track of Lou Reed's last good record, Street Hassle.
2. The Boss Helps Your Heroes! An early fan of New York's confrontational, exhaustingly influential electronic duo Suicide, Bruce helped to nearly score the band a major label contract with Arista. The Boss has also reportedly covered the band's "Dream Baby Dream" as part of his encore on this current tour.
3. The Boss is Principled! Chrysler allegedly offered Bruce $12 million to use "Born In the U.S.A." in an ad campaign, which he turned down.
4. The Boss is Lo-Fi! In the middle of his greatest commercial winning streak (between The River and Born In the U.S.A. ), The Boss dropped Nebraska--a stark, bleak, and difficult album recorded alone in his home on a four-track, that could very well be considered the first willfully lo-fi record ever on a major label.
5. The Boss Still Cares About Music! Bruce's official website has a list of the "walk in" music played on his latest tour, which features songs by Nas, Sleater-Kinney, Antony and the Johnsons, and Four Tet.
6. Plus! That song on the Philadelphia soundtrack is totally good, and you know it.