Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, what am I going to do with you?
At the “Concert for Valor” on the Mall Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., Bruce Springsteen caught social media heat for a song choice: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” which he performed with Zac Brown and Dave Grohl during Brown’s set.
[. . .]
On Veteran’s Day, in the heart of a centuries-old democracy fighting interminable foreign wars — not far from a monument to Gen. George Washington — this didn’t go over well.
“The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at ‘the red white and blue,’” the Weekly Standard wrote.
The song, you'll recall, has lyrics like "Some are born made to wave the flag/They're red, white and blue/And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"/they point the cannon at you" and "It ain't me, it ain't me/I ain't no fortunate son," meaning somebody who got to sit out the draft because of wealth and/or privilege."
OK, I get it. The "draft inequality" that John Fogerty was writing about plays right into the "income equality" that Bruce is so obsessed with. And he's not exactly trodding new anti-American sentiment by covering the song. Just look at his own "Born in the U.S.A." I mean, "Got in a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand/Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man" covers pretty much the same territory as "Fortunate Son."
But, come on. It is, after all a song protesting the draft, which we do not have anymore. He was singing it at a concert for soldiers who volunteered to risk their lives for their country. What part of "valor" don't you get, Bruce?
Yeah, yeah, I know. War is awful. Usually the wrong answer. Bad for children and other living things. Soldiers know that better that anybody, and all they ask is they not be sent into harm's way for frivolous reasos. But, time and place, Bruce, time and place. And, oh, if you're all that upset about income inequality, why don't you send a few dollars of your millions my way?
Ann Althouse disagrees, sort of:
It seems to me that an anti-draft song is a good choice to honor the volunteers. Read the lyrics here. The singer complains that he has to do the fighting because the sons of the men who decide when wars will be fought manage to evade the draft. I don't see how that's generically anti-war. What it's against is a particular political dysfunction that has been corrected. So it's a complaint that doesn't hold up anymore. You don't have to be a "fortunate son" to avoid the military. You can do what you want. Every single person who serves chose to serve.
But then she also says this:
I have to concede that it's possible that Bruce thinks — and somehow conveyed — that those who volunteer today are doing so because it's their best option in the limited array of choices they have because they are not rich or well-connected. If that's the message, then it really is a rotten thing to say to our American volunteers.
Any way you look at it, the song is out of date. Kinda stoopid to sing it at a concert meant to raise awareness of vets' problems.