Bruce Springstein and Me
Bahá’u’lláh required that His followers strictly abstain from conflict and contention, which are characteristics of the partisanship practiced in present-day politics. Having been a member of the Baha'i Faith for more than 50 years I have stayed far away from partisan politics. Bruce Springsteen and I part company in our attitude to and involvement in partisan politics. Bahá’ís, in whatever country they reside, are prohibited from holding membership in any political party. I don't think Bruce ever aspired to political office, but Springsteen supported and endorsed Obama in April 2008 and in November 2012. He appeared at several Obama rallies and gave several solo acoustic performances in support of Obama's campaigns throughout 2008 and 2012. But Springsteen is not a member of the Baha'i Faith and he is free to publically endorse whomsoever he wishes. I have been voting since the mid-1960s and have never publically endorsed any party.
As a teacher for 32 years and a student for 18, as a person who has worked with groups of people in community, as a sufferer with the tensions resulting from bipolar 1 disorder, I have had to deal with enough conflict and dissention without adding that which comes from the partisan political domain. I was innoculated from that variety of politics when my parents had party meetings in our home in my early teens. Unity and harmony are not part of the world of partisan politics.
One of the reasons for my attraciton to the Baha'i Faith by the time I was 15 was its non-partisan stance in relation to dealing with the world and its complexities. As chairman Mao used to say, "everything in life is political." Indeed, he is right, it's all a question of how you define the term, the word. The Baha'i community deals with the political in life very differently and, for that reason among many has an importnat part to play in the growing planetization of humanity.
Springsteen has from time to time discussed the importance, as he puts it, "of truth, transparency and integrity in government, the right of every American to have a job, a living wage, to be educated in a decent school, and a life filled with the dignity of work, the promise and the sanctity of home..." This, of course, is something all politicians of whatever party or persuasion agree on; the difficulty is putting it into practice, and in an openly adversarial system where one guy is wrong and the other guy is right---the society is just about inevitably polarized. Only 60% voted 61,112,145 for Obama and 58,122,514 for Romney. Voter turnout in the last 100 years has generally been 5o to 60 % of the electorate. For many, indeed for millions, it is, was and has been for a long time, a tweddle-dum and tweedle-dee, non-issue.
At first glance, one might expect to find the members of the Bahá’í community actively engaged in a wide range of partisan-political pursuits in furtherance of this community's universal ideals. The opposite is in fact the case. Bahá’ís are urged to contribute to the welfare of society, one way being to fulfill their civic responsibilities, but not in an openly partisan way. Bahá’ís are free, therefore, to vote in a general election for any candidate who, in the privacy of their conscience, they believe would make the most valuable contribution to the society in which they live. Bahá’ís may also accept nonpolitical government appointments. But they may not identify themselves with or campaign for any political party or partisan movement and their divisive forces. With these general comments having been made, I now submit two prose-poems thanks to Bruce Springsteen's music.
A LONG CONVERSATION
In the last two weeks I have enjoyed two Elvis Costello interviews with Bruce Springsteen on ABC TV in Australia.1 Life is busy even in retirement and it has taken me this week to synthesize Springsteen’s ideas about R&R, its new energy and direction since Elvis Presley in the ‘50s and the Ten Year Crusade (1953-1963)2 in which I was involved. The answers Springsteen gave to Costello’s questions led to this prose-poem.
I am no authority on Springsteen; I have simply enjoyed some of his songs over the years since he came to fame in the early to mid-70s some 40 years ago. His early years(1962-1972) and his years of initial struggle for success(1972-1974) mirrored my own. My career in the teaching profession took off about the same time as Springsteen’s in the music world but, of course, I never flew as high. We all fly and sink in varying degrees of success and failure in this earthly life.-Ron Price with thanks to: 1“Spectacle: Elvis Costello With Bruce,” ABC TV, 11:30-12:15 a.m., 17 and 24 March 2011; and 2The first international teaching Plan of the global Baha’i community which my family was involved with starting in Burlington Ontario in 1953.
You said, Bruce, that so many of
your songs were about identity:
who am I and where am I going?
Spot on, Bruce! That’s what my
poetry is all about too and we all
tell stories in such different ways
because our identity is so unique.
But getting other people to share
one’s obsessions is a big ask, Bruce.
You can die trying…..We each work
out our modus operandi, our modus
vivendi, as we walk the walk and talk
the talk, eh Bruce? Life-art is 1 long
conversation with our audience.....eh
Bruce, eh? And one must keep one’s
little bit of sermonizing in a very low
gear: people run away if you turn up
the volume, eh?.....You just can’t tell
others what to think, can you Bruce?
So thanks, Bruce, for your helping me
manage what’s eating me........You put
things well, Bruce after all your years
back to 1962 when we both got going:
me on my Baha’i trip & you with your
many several commitments with our
respective impact on the marketplace
of ideas: you were definitely a winner
there, yes, Bruce.....congratulations!!
23 to 27 March 2011 and 9 November 2012
ONE CONTINUITY: SEED PLANTIN’
3.1 Columbia Records signed Bruce Springsteen to a recording contract in April of 1973.1 This could be seen as the beginning point of the royal road to success of one of the greats in the rock and roll industry in the last quarter of the twentieth century and the first years of the 21st. I had just started teaching high school back in April 1973 in one of South Australia’s model schools. I, too, was finally making it after a long road in my own much smaller social-media world, a micro and a macro!
The Baha'i Nine Year Plan had just ended, in April 1973, and I had been living in Australia for nearly two years as an international pioneer from Canada to Australia. This poem is about Springsteen’s life from the seventies to the mid-nineties and my own life during this time. One gets a sense of who one is, in part at least, by comparison and contrast with someone whom one is not. 1 Ron Price with thanks to Stuart Werbin, Rolling Stone, 26 April 1973.
3.2 We are all free to make up the narrative of our own life. This is what you might call a type of autobiographical freedom. You can not choose what life you have lived; what has happened has happened; that is the factual base on which you construct what it all means. You can choose how to explain it to yourself and others in your memoiristic take on it all. Some would argue this take, too, is determined. I would argue we are at least, partly, free; our take is partly subjective. -In New Scientist, 8 November 1997.
When they signed you up in ’73, Bruce,
I’d just come back from a '60's collapse
and was back on top and was making it
big in my little-tiny corner of the world,
on my way to yet another hot burnout.
You started packing them in all over the
continent of America and winning music
awards right and left.........Your acoustic
triumph Nebraska presented a glorious
portrait of America however unglorious
America had become and I was planting
seeds, still planting seeds, north of the
Tropic of Capricorn, far.......Downunder.
You were consolidating your identity,
finding out who you were and where
you belonged, with Born in the USA
and I was looking like I was born in
Australia and standing tall in spite of
it all.1.....Your incomparable charisma
and your capacity to churn out song
after song made you artist of the year
time & time again while I was slipping
those seeds onto the path, very, very
unobtrusively as a gentle breeze and
finding one soul: better for thee than
all the riches,2...as if it was the most
important thing on earth. And it was.
I learned to take it all light, as you took
your R&R light:serious and livin’-it-easy
locked together as a survival package.
With the Tunnel of Love you knew the
journey was worth it even if there was
no centre for you with the international
pop sensibility.....even if the movie was
over and you had a new identity to form
& a new place to belong. You’ll be playin’
as long as you’re livin’, Bruce, and I’ll be
writin’ my poems 'cause I just discovered
them the other day along that lifeline of
seed-plantin’, identity that’s here to stay.
1 Bruce Springsteen in Bruce Springsteen: The Ultimate Compendium of Interviews, Facts and Opinions from the Files of Rolling Stones, Rolling Stones editors, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1997, p. 200. Bruce Springsteen draws on many musical influences from the reservoir of traditional American popular music, folk, blues, and country. From the beginning, rock and roll has been the dominant influence.
2 ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p.12. While living north of Capricorn from July 1982 to December 1987 I found one soul, an Aboriginal elder named Larry Ahlin.
16 May 1999 to 9 November 2012
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Last edited by ronPrice; 09-11-2012 at 06:43.
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