Bruce Springsteen critics are wrong: ‘Fortunate Son’ isn’t anti-troop, it’s anti-war

11.12.14 3 years ago

Brad Barket/Invision/AP

Bruce Springsteen is drawing heat for…supporting our nation's veterans.

Though Eminem received his share of criticism for dropping multiple f-bombs at the televised Concert for Valor Veteran's Day event on Tuesday, The Boss (along with collaborators Dave Grohl and Zac Brown) has been taken to task even more harshly by Twitter users and right-wing pundits alike for performing a cover of John Fogerty's anti-war song “Fortunate Son” at the D.C. event.

“The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at 'the red white and blue,'” gripes neocon opinion mag The Weekly Standard. “It was a particularly terrible choice given that 'Fortunate Son' is, moreover, an anti-draft song, and this concert was largely organized to honor those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

“You”re doing this for an audience of veterans, and it”s almost a slap in the face,” complained Fox News anchor Anna Kooiman on Wednesday. “These producers should have known their audience, and known what they were getting with people like Bruce Springsteen.”

And from John Nolte at Breitbart.com: “'Fortunate Son' isn't just an anti-draft song, it is also an anti-military and anti-troop song written at a time when it was acceptable to trash the men and women who fight our wars as baby killers and worse. Through their 'star spangled eyes' America's veterans have faced much worse than an aging rocker unable to keep his ego under control. …The only message Springsteen sent Tuesday night is that, thanks to our veterans, he has the God-given American right to be a preening, classless jerk.”

These complaints of course miss the entire point of (military veteran) Fogerty's timeless classic, which isn't anti-troop but anti-war; in addition to making salient points about income inequality and nepotism (“Some folks are born silver spoon in hand/Lord, don”t they help themselves”), the lyrics also address the kind of blind patriotism that makes some so willing to lob attacks against a figure like Springsteen, whose only “offense” is taking a stand against the senseless deaths of our men and women in uniform.

Not only that, but original intent is important – and contrary to Nolte's assertion that “Fortunate Son” is “anti-troop,” Fogerty himself has explained of the song (in context of the deadly Kent State protests): “To me those soldiers [returning from Vietnam] were my brothers…The protest was against the policy, not the soldiers. I never understood protesters spitting on our G.I.s.”

It's truly a laughable notion that Springsteen, who himself penned the 1984 pro-troop anthem “Born in the U.S.A.,” performed the song to spit in the face of our troops. If anything, he should be praised for participating in an event designed to benefit non-profit organizations that create opportunities for veterans to improve their lives.

Watch a clip of the performance below. You can read the full lyrics to “Fortunate Son” further down.

What are your thoughts on the Springsteen controversy? Sound off in the comments.

“Fortunate Son” lyrics:

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they're red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no Senator's son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one, no

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh
But when the tax men come to the door
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no millionaire's son, no, no
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one, no

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no military son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one, no, no, no
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate son, no, no

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