November 5, 2012

Bruce joins President & Mrs. Obama in Iowa

The Iowa capitol building behind the throngs of people provided a nice backdrop to this Des Moines Obama campaign event, the last of the day and the last of the campaign itself. As I looked out around me at the crowd stretching multiple city blocks at 7:45 pm, I saw no end in sight of people arriving. They just kept coming, past 9pm. As an Iowan, I had to think back to the unusually slim crowds at Springsteen’s last two concert stops in the state; a friend and fellow Bruce fan laughingly said, “This will be the biggest crowd Bruce has played to in Iowa in a long time!”

The scene laid out beautifully under the cool, damp Iowa evening as people continued to arrive and anticipation built. A 9:30 our “faith was rewarded” as Bruce took the stage, all smiles: “Hello, Des Moines! Good to be back in Iowa.  I was here two weeks ago, and I’m gonna be back here every two weeks from now on,” he laughed. “That’s the deal!”

After “No Surrender” Bruce made a few comments as he had at events earlier in the day, stating he was “glad to be here for Iowa and President Obama” and thinking of the people of the Northeast still suffering the effects of Sandy.  He sent thoughts and prayers their way. Springsteen also delivered the strong applause line “It’ll be good to hear the power of your voices and your vote tomorrow! This is ‘The Promised Land.”

After that Darkness on the Edge of Town classic, it was time again for some comic relief. Bruce joked that after campaigning for President Obama four years ago, now the President thinks they’re “buddies,” and that occasionally he’ll get a late night phone call. “One late night I answer the phone, and all I hear is…” — Bruce does his best impersonation of Obama as Al Green, singing “Let’s Stay Together.” “And then after the first debate, I get a call and I hear, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”… After the second debate there was a 4 a.m. call from the President singing ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It.”  This was all by way of introducing “Forward,” Springsteen’s campaign song: “I played it in Ames a couple weeks ago, but it’s been refined since then. After I play this song in any of these swing states, the election is pretty much sealed!”

Bruce’s then gave his now-polished stump speech, a strong and well-received speech from the heart. He must have made some new fans tonight, as I believe is always the case when people see the man not only perform but also speak at length for the first time.  A beautiful (if slightly abridged) “Land of Hope and Dreams” followed to close out his 25-minute set Just before 10pm Springsteen had, to his clear delight, the opportunity to “proudly introduce to you the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama!”

The First Lady gave a very heartfelt thank you to Springsteen for all his time and work he and his family have given to the campaign, and then thanked the great state of Iowa for launching their bid to “change the country four years ago.” President Obama himself gave a rousing 30-minute speech and certainly, with Bruce’s help, he did in strong fashion “finish where we started” in Iowa.

—Tom Nettleton,