derspiegel article Kirschbaum book Springsteen 1988 Berlin concert
July 4, 2013 6:26 AM   Subscribe

A new book about Bruce Springsteen's 1988 Berlin concert and the fall of the Wall. In July, 1988 Springsteen performed at the bicycle racetrack in Berlin and reportedly 300 000 people showed up. Everybody in the country who was not at the concert watched it on television.

The book by Erik Kirschbaum is called Rocking the Wall. Reuters did a similar story in 2008. People in the articles say it was the most important rock concert ever. The climax of the concert was a cover of Dylan's Chimes of Freedom. The 1988 tour was the Tunnel of Love Express tour. Tunnel of Love Express shows were the last full-length ones Springsteen would play with the E Street Band for eleven years.

See also: twenty previous metafilter blue posts tagged with Springsteen.
posted by bukvich (16 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
As this article points out, at the time the Germans were also (and remain) David Hasselhoff fans. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by chavenet at 6:43 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

"The Communist Party's youth arm, the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ), had invited Springsteen as part of an official drive to placate the country's increasingly restless youth."

Because when you're running a repressive regime, and you want to make your disaffected youth forget how miserable their lives are, and to accept their lack of freedoms, Springsteen's your go-to guy.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:36 AM on July 4, 2013 [15 favorites]

I hadn't heard of the concert or the book. This is amazing - thanks for posting!

I saw him play in Munich in the early 90s, and the fans adored him. When he played "Hungry Heart" and I sang along, the Germans around me kept looking at me to see what the specific words were. And before his last encore, Bruce came out and joked in German, "Ich bin zu muuuuuuuude!" ("I'm too tiiiiiiiired!") I've seen him many, many times, but he never topped that moment when he - this icon of all things American - spoke to his German fans in German.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:44 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's something altogether weird about an enormous crowd of East Berliners belting out "Born in the USA."
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's a shame the west never got to see that concert. I'd have loved to seen it. It's amazing the history we live through, without knowing it's happening around us. Like Mr. Kirschbaum, this is the first I've heard of it.

The marker I have from that time is alluded to in the article, Pink Floyd, doing The Wall live at the (former, but only just) wall in 1990. Seeing that, I really got that the world, the cold war I grew up in, was changing.
posted by bonehead at 8:06 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I saw him perform here in London on Sunday, and I'm still hoarse from singing (ok, fine, screaming) along. Just throwing that out there.
posted by Optamystic at 8:30 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Bruce Springsteen - freedom fighter
posted by caddis at 8:51 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chimes of Freedom youtube + speech in German; the German for "rock and roll" is rocknroll!

The speech:

"Es ist schön, in Ost-Berlin zu sein. Ich bin nicht für oder gegen eine regierung. Ich bin gekommen um Rock'n'Roll zu spielen für Ost-Berlinern, in der hoffnung dass eines tages alle Barrieren abgerissen werden."

The translation:

"It's nice to be in East Berlin...I want to tell you that I'm not here for or against any government, I have come to play rock'n'roll for the the hope that one day all barriers will be torn down..."

I don't know German and I pulled this off the video page. Damn that is a lot of people there. Also it looks like Bruce could bench press around 250 pounds back in 1988.
posted by bukvich at 9:02 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

He probably still can.
posted by Optamystic at 9:09 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Bruce could bring down the Berlin Wall but he never mumbles a word about the Evil Record Industry that makes him rich but rips off 99.9% of musicians? If there is any single artist who claims to have a conscience and definitely has the resources to singlehandedly change the business, he's the one. But he just keeps renewing with Sony Music and laughing all the way to the bank. Which puts him near the top of my "ignore the lyrics he sings" list.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:15 AM on July 4, 2013

Would he sound any more or less like a hypocrite decrying the system that made him rich?

But sorry, you were talking about how our favourite band/musician sucks...
posted by dry white toast at 11:41 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nice to get a bit of Bruce juice on the MeFi. Cheers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:52 AM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Based on the content of my friends' postings on facebook today, I predict that in a thousand years the original significance of Independence Day will have been lost and it will be an occasion to make offerings of grilled meat and pyrotechnics to please benevolent god Brucespringsteen.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:10 PM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

You know reading about stuff like this, seeing the youtube video, really really moves me. Every time. All those people peacefully protesting that regime one year later, knowing that the goons might shoot them. All those goons of the regime NOT shooting.
This is so fucking amazing! Aw, there's a splinter in my eye...
posted by mmkhd at 1:29 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's something altogether weird about an enormous crowd of East Berliners belting out "Born in the USA."

Does it help any to know that they would have also heard the following lyrics in the song?

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run aint got nowhere to go

But don't let that get in the way of a shallow interpretation.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:50 PM on July 4, 2013

But don't let that get in the way of a shallow interpretation.

I'm sorry; were there a lot of East German Vietnam vets?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:17 PM on July 4, 2013

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