"From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen" will be on display Feb. 17-Sept. 3 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
A museum devoted to the bedrock of American democracy will from Feb. 17 through Sept. 3 celebrate a more visceral sort of rock: The music of Bruce Springsteen.
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia is presenting, “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen.”
Originating at the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, where the exhibition was featured next to the likes of Elvis and Elton, The Boss will now be rubbing monumental shoulders with George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
“No other artist is as steeped in Americana or has better told the story of the American dream than Bruce Springsteen,” said David Eisner, the center’s CEO. “He’s the perfect artist for a center devoted to the robust discussion of American values to feature.”
America has one national anthem, but Americans have dozens, many of them — “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Promised Land,” “Born to Run,” and “The Rising” — composed and performed by Springsteen and the E Street Band. Over the past 40 years, Springsteen has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide and helped define American character as surely as Uncle Sam.
“The only other artists so connected to America are Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, but even compared to them he’s fairly unique,” said Jim Henke, curator of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. “His songs deal with the struggles as much as the dreams.”
National Constitution Center
The jeans Bruce Springsteen wore on the cover of "Born in the U.S.A."
Springsteen also differs from other artists, Henke said, in that he had an innate recognition that he was doing something that was transcending the music.
“He saved everything,” Henke said. “So we have the Fender guitar featured on the cover of ‘Born to Run.’ We have the jeans he wore on the cover of ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ The exhibit is a very comprehensive look at his life and his career going clear back to his childhood.”
Eisner, whose favorite album is the stark “Nebraska” from 1982, said he’s been particularly pleased to thumb through the lyric notebooks.
“His penmanship on things like set lists is very hurried, but with the lyrics you can tell he was almost reverential with the words he was composing to songs like ‘Jungleland,’ ” Eisner said. “It’s also fun to see some of the changes he made from before recording the songs."
With Springsteen playing shows in Philadelphia on March 28 and 29, Eisner is besieged by friends who are begging for any hint that The Boss will come to the exhibit.
Henke said it happened in Cleveland.
“I called up his assistant and said the show was closing and we’d be happy to give him a private tour,” he said. “He said that wasn’t necessary. So on the very last day of the Springsteen exhibit, on a packed weekend, many fans were treated to seeing the Bruce Springsteen exhibit with Bruce Springsteen himself. And he couldn’t have been nicer.”
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