In 2005, Bruce Springsteen inducted U2 — which had recently done a commercial for iPod — into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Oh my God! They sold out!,” he exclaimed in mock astonishment in his induction speech, before sharing some thoughts on why he had never done a commercial himself. He said that while he has “an insanely expensive lifestyle that my wife barely tolerates,” he also has “a ludicrous image of myself that keeps me from truly cashing in (via a commercial).”
The news that Springsteen has done a commercial for Jeep (you can watch it below) has already spurred debate over whether he has sold out. It is, after all, the first commercial he has done, after having had many opportunities. At the height of Brucemania in the ’80s, he famously turned down $12 million from Chrysler, who wanted to use “Born in the USA” in an ad.
Personally, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Will this affect the way I listen to Springsteen’s music? No, not one bit.
Certainly, there is a part of me that would have preferred that Springsteen remained unsullied by any attachment to any commercial product. But if he has sold out, he has done so in the least objectionable way possible, for these reasons
1. While the two-minute spot is, undeniably, a commercial, and is intended to sell cars, its content is a hopeful message about the future of the country.
2. Springsteen and his producer Ron Aniello created original music for the commercial instead of using one of Springsteen’s past songs, so none of his prior music will be associated with this.
3. The commercial will only be shown on television once, during the Super Bowl, so we’re not going to be bombarded with it (though it will always be available online).
4. I think you’ve got to cut the Boss some slack given that we are almost a year into the pandemic now. Touring has been taken away. Of course, he doesn’t need the money to put food on his family’s table. But, as mentioned above, he does have an insanely expensive lifestyle, plus a bunch of people who work for him — including Aniello, and film director Thom Zimny (who worked on the spot as well), and his management team, and so on. It’s pretty hardhearted to begrudge him his decision to keep some money coming in, in this way, at this time. Most other artists would have done the same.
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