Today President Barack Obama honored this year’s crop of winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Which included many notable celebrities and star athletes, but it was a little old Jersey Boy named Bruce that Obama discussed the longest.
You see, Obama is, of course, excited to bestow honor upon all these living legends, but he got a little more amped up when it came to giving Bruce Springsteen his honor. In fact, Obama described Bruce’s contributions with such depth and conviction, that he may have explained Springsteen’s American legacy better than anyone who has come before him. Add that to his list of presidential accomplishments.
Here are his full remarks on Bruce:
“He was sprung from a cage out on Highway 9, a quiet kid from Jersey just trying to make sense of temples of dreams and the mystery that dotted his home town, pool halls, bars, girls, cars, alters, and assembly lines. For decades, Bruce Springsteen has brought us all along on a journey consumed with the bargains between ambition and injustice, pleasure and pain, the simple glories and scattered heartbreak of everyday life in America. To create one of his biggest hit, he once said, ‘I wanted to craft a record that sounded like the last record on Earth, the last one you ever needed to hear, one glorious noise, then the apocalypse. Every restless kid in America was given a story, ‘Born to Run’.
He didn’t stop there. Once he told us about himself, he told us about everyone else: the steelworker in ‘Youngstown’; the Vietnam vet in ‘Born in the USA’; the sick and marginalized on ‘Streets of Philadelphia’; the firefighter carrying the weight of a reeling but resilient nation on ‘The Rising’; the young solider reckoning with the ‘Devils and Dust’ in Iraq; the communities knocked down by recklessness and greed on ‘Wrecking Ball’; all of us with our faults and failings, every color, class, and creed, bound together by one defiant restless train rolling toward ‘The Land of Hope and Dreams’. These are all anthems of our America, the reality of who we are and the reverie of who we want to be.
The hallmark of a rock and roll band, Bruce Springsteen once said, is that the narrative you tell together is bigger than the one you could tell on your own. For decades, alongside The Big Man, Little Steven, a Jersey girl named Patti, and all the men and women of the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen has been carrying the rest of us on his journey, asking us all what is the work for us to do in our short time here.
I am the President, he is The Boss. Pushing 70, he’s still laying down four-hour live sets … fire-breathing rock and roll. I thought twice about giving him a medal named for freedom, because we hope he remains, in his word, a prisoner of rock and roll, for years to come.”
Wow. Almost Springsteen-esque in the pure passion, epic scope, and dramatic tone eh? And it’s almost enough to make me hope Barack takes up rock and roll when he’s out of office. Watch the entire ceremony above — Barack’s remarks on The Boss span from 1:19:34 — 1:22:18.