Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M frontman Michael Stipe hit the campaign trail Friday in Philadelphia when they hopped the Vote for Change tour bandwagon, a 10-day series of concerts in battleground states aimed at removing President Bush from office.
The Associated Press reported that the musicians’ message to vote for Sen. John Kerry for President on Nov. 2 was clear, with the Boss opening with a solo version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before segueing into a rousing rendition of his anti-war anthem “Born in the U.S.A.”
“America is not always right – that’s a fairy tale you tell your children – but America is always true, and it’s in seeking this truth that we find a deeper patriotism,” Springsteen told an appreciative audience after endorsing Kerry.
Springsteen and Stipe, both critics of the war in Iraq, took the stage together to introduce the first band, Bright Eyes, and to remind the crowd to vote. Said Stipe: “This is a very important moment for every one of us and for our country.”
Across Pennsylvania, the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor performed in Pittsburgh, while other Vote for Change shows took place in Erie, State College, Reading and Wilkes-Barre. The tour features Pearl Jam, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Mellencamp and others, and includes 37 shows in 30 cities through Oct. 11. Organizers said 90 percent of the concerts, including the one in Philly, were sold out as of Friday.
As James Taylor told the Pittsburgh crowd, referring to last week’s presidential debates in which, according to polls and comments from both liberal and conservative observers, Bush paled in comparison to Kerry: “I think our guy did really pretty good last night.”
Taylor also advised any undecided voters in the crowd to “take a real close look at both of the candidates and then vote for the smart one.”
When some people booed the remark, Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, once criticized for saying she was ashamed to share her home state of Texas with Bush, announced on stage: “We don’t feel at home unless we hear some boos, so you’re welcome.”