Springsteen’s contribution to Obama’s victory has been, I believe, underrecognized and underappreciated. So think of this as a personal thank you to Bruce. He’s a figure whose work I’ve loved and struggled with for a long time. (I love the mixture of dread and exhilaration his music evokes; my faves include “Atlantic City,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “Tougher Than the Rest.” I worry a bit about some of the anthemic bombast.) But I’ve always found appealing the original doomy vision that underlies his work, the genesis of his sensibility, his portraits of the sad, seedy romanticism of the Jersey shore (long before Jersey Shore).
And so I was stunned by the fateful confluence of Sandy and Christie and Bruce and Barack just days before the election—a confluence that may well have decided the election. I started thinking about this on a kind of mythic level when the narrative of Sandy’s political effect (as opposed to its tragic, shore-level devastations) began to unfold. Is it not one of the weirdest coincidences that this wicked hurricane was given the name Sandy before anyone knew it was destined to virtually target and devastate the Jersey shore? A Jersey shore whose pre-Snooki muse was an elusive boardwalk goddess named Sandy, immortalized in the Springsteen song “Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”? Who could have known then that Sandy (the storm), after heading up the Atlantic coast of the United States, would stop and take that sharp left turn, smashing into the boardwalks and beach towns of the Jersey shore that Bruce had celebrated and mourned? Thereby summoning Barack Obama into the arms of Chris Christie, Chris Christie into the arms of Bruce Springsteen, just when Springsteen was summoning the hearts of those all-important undecided voters in Ohio and the Midwest to Obama? Not even Nate Silver could have predicted all that.