Story 2016-11-22 White House, Washington, DC

What President Obama said about Bruce

He was sprung from a cage out on Highway 9, a quiet kid from Jersey, just trying to make sense of the temples of dreams and the mystery that dotted his hometown: the pool halls, bars, girls and cars, altars and assembly lines. And for decades, Bruce Springsteen has brought us all along on a journey consumed with the bargains between ambition and injustice, and pleasure and pain, the simple glories and scattered heartbreak of everyday life in America.

To create one of his biggest hits, he once said, “I wanted to craft a record that sounded like the last record on Earth …the last one you’d ever NEED 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 everybody else: The steel worker in “Youngstown,” the Vietnam vet in “Born in the USA,” the sick and the marginalized on the “Streets of Philadelphia,” the firefighter carrying the weight of a reeling but resilient nation on “The Rising,” the young solider reckoning with “Devils & Dust” in Iran, the communities knocked down by recklessness and greed, in “Wrecking Ball.” All of us, with our faults and our failings, every color and 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 ‘n’ roll band, Bruce Springsteen once said, is that the narrative you tell together is bigger than anyone could have told 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, and asking us all, “What is the work for us to do in our short time here?”

I am the President, he is the Boss. And pushing 70, he is still laying down four-hour live sets. If you have not been at them, he is working! Fire-breathing rock ‘n’ roll. So I thought twice about giving him a medal named for freedom, because we hope he remains, in his words, a “prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll” for years to come.

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What the announcer said about Bruce

Bruce F. Springsteen

As a songwriter, a humanitarian, America's rock and roll laureate, and New Jersey's greatest ambassador, Bruce Springsteen is, quite simply, The Boss. Through stories about ordinary people, to Vietnam veterans to steel workers, his songs capture the pain and the promise of the American experience. With his legendary E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen leaves everything on stage in epic, live, communal live performances that have rocked audiences for decades. With empathy and honesty, he holds up a mirror to who we are, as Americans chasing our dreams, and as human beings trying to do the right thing. There's a place for everyone in Bruce Springsteen's America.

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