For most Springsteen fans, the glory of these two events may be too much to handle. The Bruce fanatics will be out in force lining up at the local record shop to lay down big bucks for his first live recording with the E Street Band in 16 years. You can also lay good money that those same folks will be gathering round that TV screen to watch their beloved hero belt out tune after familiar tune in typical Springsteen fashion.
I must admit that I, too, might have been among the euphoric this week, but after some close calls, The Boss has finally alienated me, and I won't be coming back.
The TV show and the CD were recorded at Madison Square Garden last June. It was during those concerts that the band introduced a new song called "American Skin" ("41 Shots"). Springsteen actually performed the song once prior in Philadelphia, but the song had a special meaning in New York City.
You see, 41 shots refers to the number of times police fired at an unarmed man on a Bronx street on Feb. 4, 1999. Amadou Diallo was tragically killed on that night by members of the NYPD's Special Crime Unit. Forty-one shots were fired. Diallo was hit by 19. The officers thought that Diallo had a gun. It turned out to be a wallet.
In one of the most racially charged cases that New York City has seen in the last decade, the four white officers – Edward McMellon, Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy and Kenneth Boss – were acquitted of murder by a jury in Albany, N.Y., more than a year later on Feb. 25, 2000. A judge had moved the trial out of the Bronx to Albany because he felt that the officers could not receive a fair trial in New York City. In January of this year the Justice Department announced that it would not bring federal civil rights violation charges against the officers.
A listen to the lyrics of "41 Shots" certainly seems to indicate that Spingsteen has determined that the cops involved shot at Diallo because of the color of his skin. The lyrics include: "Is it a gun? Is it a knife? Is it a wallet? This is your life ... It ain't no secret, my friend ... you can get killed just for living in your American skin ... 41 shots ... 41 shots ... 41 shots. ..."
The head of the New York City PBA wrote a letter to Springsteen back in June. He wanted a meeting with The Boss to explain the sensitivity of the situation and what the officers went through on that February night in the Bronx. Pat Lynch sent the letter and waited for his chance, but The Boss never responded. To this day, he has never responded to Lynch and the group of 30,000 officers which he represents.
It should be noted that Springsteen did meet with the family of Amadou Diallo, and had them sitting front and center at Madison Square Garden to view the singing of "41 Shots" first hand.
In the past, Springsteen has been viewed as pro-police for his 1998 benefit concert for the family of Patrick King. The Long Branch, N.J., police sergeant had been shot to death two months prior. The concert raised more than $100,000 for the family and $37,000 for the Long Branch police.
So why the song "41 Shots"? Why the lack of courtesy to meet with Pat Lynch? Why include the song on both the new CD and the TV special?
Last June I auctioned off a pair of tickets that I had for one of Bruce's concerts at the Garden. It raised $2,000 for the PBA. I vowed then and I vow now not to see Springsteen in person or on the tube. I certainly will not buy his disc.
He almost lost me with "Born in the USA," which President Reagan mistook for a positive song about our great nation. Of course it was quite the opposite. However, after "41 Shots," and his lack of respect for the cops involved, it appears that ... baby, I was born to run ... from Bruce Springsteen.
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