People lined the streets of downtown Philadelphia Saturday to support the man who wrote “Born to Run” and a man whom they believe was born to run for president.
From 20th to 22nd streets, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway closed for the Vote for Change rally, which featured a free performance by Bruce Springsteen in support of Sen. Barack Obama. Organizers of the event encouraged all attendees to register to vote, regardless of their political affiliation.
Philadelphia-based band Nora Whitaker kicked off the rally, performing tunes that blended soul, blues, R&B and pop. Songwriter and guitarist Amos Lee was another featured act during the opening of the rally. Lee performed “Keep It Loose and Keep It Tight.”
The tens of thousands of people in attendance anxiously awaited speeches from Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Ed Rendell. Casey and Rendell pumped up the crowd for Springsteen, who was introduced by an Obama staffer.
Springsteen walked onto the stage in jeans and a plaid shirt and opened up his set with one of his best songs, “Promised Land,” which targeted Pennsylvania’s working-class families.
“I’ve spent 35 years writing about America, its people and the meaning of the American promise,” Springsteen said, as he strummed his guitar lightly. “I’ve spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work.”
Springsteen performed “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and an acoustic version of “Thunder Road,” which moved the crowd to sing along with the lyrics, “We got one last chance to make it real, to trade in these wings on some wheels.” He also sung “No Surrender,” followed by “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?”
Springsteen has a political history. He publicly disputed the use of “Born in the U.S.A.” by President Ronald Reagan. In 2004, he performed along with R.E.M. during the Vote for Change Tour. His support for Senator Obama is no different.
“We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task,” Springsteen said. “I don’t know about you, but I want that dream back. I want my America back, I want my country back. So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising.”
Steve Ciccarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.