Bruce Springsteen originally planned on devoting his biweekly SiriusXM show From My Home to Yours to songs that celebrated summer this week. But the mounting death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic caused him to switch gears and record an episode offering prayers to everyone impacted by the ongoing tragedy.
“With 100,000 plus Americans dying over the last few months and the empty, shamed response from our leaders, I’ve been simply pissed off,” he said at the top of the show. “Those lives deserve better than being simply inconvenient statistics for our president’s reelection efforts. It’s a national disgrace.”
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“Instead of celebrating the joys of summer today, we will be contemplating our current circumstances with the coronavirus and the cost it has drawn from our nation,” he continued. “We will be calculating what we’ve lost, sending prayers for the deceased and the families they have left behind. If you are ready for a rock & roll requiem, stay tuned.”
He then turned his attention to President Trump. “With all respect, sir, show some consideration and care for your countrymen and your country,” he said. “Put on a fucking mask. This is Bob Dylan with ‘Disease of Conceit.'”
The rest of the show mixed mournful songs like Neil Young’s “When God Made Me” and the Sensational Nightingales’ “Burying Ground” with Springsteen reading the names of people that died from COVID-19, touching on everyone from everyday citizens to cultural icons like John Prine and Adam Schlesinger.
“One of the most heartrending aspects of these deaths is that the virus has stolen from us our rituals, our funerals, our wakes, our house meetings with family after the burial,” he said. “Our ability to stand by our loved ones, to touch them, to kiss them as they pass, to look into their eyes and let them physically know how we love them. This is the cruelty of this disease. To say our last goodbyes to our loved ones by phone and then to return home alone to an empty house. It is a heartbreaking and lonely death for those afflicted and for those left behind to pick up the pieces.”
Unspoken was the fact that his elderly mother Adele has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for a number of years. He did speak about the loss of his father Douglas Springsteen back in 1998. “When my father died, my close friends and my brother-in-law, we stood in the graveyard in the midst of our large family and we took shovels and we buried my father ourselves,” he said. “It meant a great, great, great deal to me and is a memory I’ll cherish as long as I live.”
After playing his own cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” as an elegy for lost Americans, he spoke about the bravery of health professionals during this time. “The footage from inside some of the ERs that we’ve seen should be enough to convince you to stay safe, behave responsibly and heed the warning of your medical professionals,” he said. “The souls intubated, struggling for each breath, are a testament to the deadliness of this virus and to the bravery of our frontline doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. Our healthcare professionals who willingly put themselves in harm’s way, risking their own lives for others deserve some special dispensation in heaven and here on earth. We owe them our eternal thanks.”
Near the end of the show, he played Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around.” “He is warning us that Judgment Day is coming,” Springsteen said. “The election is only months away. Vote. God help us all. Vote before it’s too late.”
He wrapped up with some final prayers. “We send our prayers out for the deceased and our families and to all of you,” he said. “American citizens unite. Your country needs you. Your countrymen need your care and compassion. And this is our moment. Until we meet again, stay safe, stay strong, mask up and go in peace.”
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