Monday, February 2, 2009


The Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Greatest Hits album that was exclusive to Walmart was never going to fly under the media's radar. Bruce's manager gamely defended the decision to put the release out in an interview with Billboard, but over the weekend in an interview with The New York Times, Bruce admitted that doing the exclusive was a mistake. "We were in the middle of doing a lot of things, it kind of came down and, really, we didn’t vet it the way we usually do. We just dropped the ball on it... Given its labor history, it was something that if we’d thought about it a little longer, we’d have done something different. It was a mistake. Our batting average is usually very good, but we missed that one. Fans will call you on that stuff, as it should be." Walmart reacted with a press statement: "Millions of Springsteen fans have counted on Wal-Mart over the years to deliver his music into their lives. We will continue to offer those fans this Greatest Hits exclusive and his other popular albums at unbeatable prices." The statement added that Walmart is "proud" of the careers and job opportunities it offers to more than one million Americans.

The thing I admire about the way that Bruce handled it is this: he realized that he made a mistake. At best, he didn't keep his eye on the ball, and his organization (management, record label, or a combination of both) did something that seemed to go against what he stands for, and what he represents to many of his fans -- especially the fans who didn't desert him over the years after "41 Shots" or The Vote For Change Tour or any of his other politically charged moves. At worst, he may have gone a bit too far to cross the aisle and make nice with people who were alienated by his actions in the past decade (which seems to be a very Obama-ish kind of mistake). But like Obama, he was frank and was a man when called on it, instead of denying, hiding behind BS or distorting facts, he just said, "We were wrong." You have to respect that.

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