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What Bruce Springsteen wants from rock and roll

I recently caught this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction. I went out of my way to watch it because I liked all the bands that were inducted. I also enjoyed the folks that gave the keynote speeches for each group.

But I was especially impressed with Springsteen's induction speech for U2, not because I'm a huge Springsteen fan (I'm not); nor am I huge U2 fan (although I like them better than Springsteen). I just thought it was a great bit of writing and a great performance.

Uno, dos, tres, catorce.

That translates as one, two, three, fourteen. That is the correct math for a rock and roll band. For in art and love and rock and roll, the whole had better equal much more than the sum of its parts, or else you're just rubbing two sticks together searching for fire. A great rock band searches for the same kind of combustible force that fueled the expansion of the universe after the big bang. You want the earth to shake and spit fire. You want the sky to split apart and for God to pour out.

It's embarrassing to want so much, and to expect so much from music, except sometimes it happens -- the Sun Sessions, Highway 61, Sgt. Peppers, the Band, Robert Johnson, Exile on Main Street, Born to Run -- whoops, I meant to leave that one out (laughter) -- the Sex Pistols, Aretha Franklin, the Clash, James Brown...the proud and public enemies it takes a nation of millions to hold back.

This is music meant to take on not only the powers that be, but on a good day, the universe and God himself -- if he was listening. It's man's accountability, and U2 belongs on this list.

Springsteen goes on and it's plain that there is a lot of affection between Bruce and the boys in the band. The speech is also pretty funny -- lots of good natured ribbing. You have to hear him deliver it in that Jersey patois. But, shy of that, you can read it here. It's worth it.

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