Springsteen, Tradition, and the Purpose of the Artist

William Wolff

Abstract


In 2012, Bruce Springsteen delivered the keynote address at the South By Southwest Music Conference and Festival. His task was daunting: reconnect authenticity to a traditional approach to creating art. By bringing together ideas on authenticity, creativity, and culture, Springsteen’s talk joins a lineage of essays that defend poetry, creativity, and culture, including famous works by William Wordsworth and T.S. Eliot. In this article, I connect Springsteen’s ideas to the “folk process,” which leads to considering Wordsworth’s ideas on the voice of the common citizen and Eliot’s ideas on historical tradition. In the end, I consider Springsteen’s legacy as cultural ambassador for the arts.


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