8 February 2013, Los Angeles, California, USA
Thank you, thanks a lot. It’s kind of a freaky experience, the whole thing, it’s – it is
a bit like, this is the Italian wedding Patti and I never had. It’s a huge Bar Mitzvah.
Your life does – did kind of pass and John legend made me sound like Gershwin, I
love that. Neil Young made me sound like the Sex Pistols, I love that.
You know, what a night, quite a night, uh makes me proud to be a musician. Here
tonight with my mom, she is 87, she is here with me, yeah. My sister, it’s her
birthday, happy birthday sis. My lovely daughter is with me tonight, her boyfriend,
and Ricky and Marian are my cousins who raised our children with us, thank you
Ricky and Marian for being here with me.
Got to walk through red carpet, that was – it was fun. And Patty, what can I say,
you know, 20, 25, years we’ve been together, love you, love you. I’m glad you
could all share this night with me. I’m glad to be here for MusiCares, it’s a great
organization, it takes care of musicians. They take care of the people who is taking
care of us with their voices and with their songs, with their blood, with their sweat
and tears and with their lovely and great artistry.
The people whose music have inspired us and soothe their broken hearts, angered
us, whose music we’ve got married to, divorced to, music that’s been with us on
our blackest days, stood by us in war and in peace, made us laugh, made us be
strong, helped us not be stupid and formed us and loved us.
Music, do you believe in magic? There is no faith required, none whatsoever,
because it’s all like this evening, right? Here in front of you. I’ve seen it, I’ve been
a part of the miracle of music. I’ve seen people tired and depressed and weary and
worn out, soul off. And I’ve seen them revived, rise from their seats and dance.
The Taliban will never win, not now or not ever, not here, not in Timbuktu by
banning the music and dancing, don’t tell them. The minute you do that, you label
yourself a tyrant and your cruel days are numbered. The minute Timbuktu was
liberated, what did people do? They played music, and they danced. I was so happy
to read that in the paper. I was happy for them, and happy for us.
“Vive la France!”
You can’t triumph without music because music is life; music is the birds singing,
the wheat rustling in the fields, strumming of the wind through the leaves of that
tree that was in the backyard of your childhood home. The earth and the stars
rolling through the heavens at night, before man or a woman heard their name,
they heard music. They heard the wind rushing past their eardrums, the grasses
humming with insects, the birds knocking and rocking in the trees.
Thank you MusiCares for taking care of musicians, because we are bad with our
money, we spend it too freely, and on too many stupid things. We drink it away, we
do drugs, we love too many and the wrong people, we are the wrong people. You
know, we fuck up many people’s lives, many people’s lives, while setting fire to
our own dancing down the street. We are a brother and sisterhood of magical fuckups,
and we need you.
Because once in a while we get it right, and then we sing about it, and we sing
about it and we are musicians. Take me for instance, I am here tonight under totally
false pretenses, because whatever philanthropy I’ve ever done, it usually just
involves me playing the guitar, making a few bucks and bringing some attention to
the folks that are really doing the work, shouldn’t count really much. I mean, I was
going to be playing the guitar anyway.
You know, and I am actually, I’m here tonight because last year, Mr. Landau, my
manager called me up and said, “Boss, what do you think about opening the
Grammys this year with your new song, and we had a new record, and I thought it
was one of the berst records that I ever made, and so I wanted to promote it, right?
And I said, “It sounds great.” Because I am going to call Ken Ehrlich right now, all
right, he is the Grammy producer, I met him, I don’t know maybe back in ‘96 when
I sang The Ghost of Tom Joad, and he had me under like 10,000 lights, it looked
like I was going to be abducted by aliens.
We sort of – but anyway, I said go ahead call Ken; John calls back the next day
says, “Ken loves the song, and he would love to have a 63-year-old man open the
Grammys, and – and would you like to be MusiCares Person of the Year?” Now,
I’m pretty sure he said, “And” though he might have said “If.” He might have actually said, if you will be MusiCares Person of the Year or he might have said,
“And”, and then he left a really long pause so that the “And” became “if” while it
was hanging out there. And he said, we’re going to be out there anyway for you to
pick up your best album award, because we are optimists. So even though I have
gathered all of these people, some of my great heroes, all these new youngsters
here tonight is fabulous musicians. The evening actually had its origins in a
mercenary promotional opportunity.
Um, but, it’s a great night anyway, because people played music. So I’m having
one of the loveliest nights of my life tonight, I was just, I got the auction, you
know; just some I’ve really – the circle is a strange thing.
You know Ben Harper had Charlie Musselwhite playing with him on the
harmonica, you know, I opened for Charlie Musselwhite in a little club in San
Francisco, he will not remember me, right? When I was my daughter’s age, you
know, and I have Patty Smith here in my life again. We always called that song our
song, but really it’s her song, right? I would have never finished it, I couldn’tdidn’t
have a story and the beautiful story of Fred’s Telephone Call, and if I’d had
finished it, I would have never had a hit with you, I would have never had. And see
you gave me one of my greatest, and I play this song almost every night, so it’s
your song and thank you for being here along with all of the other musicians, that’s
the humbling thing.
I mean, it’s wonderful to see people come up and sing your music, the young
musicians. Musicians like the great musicians that are gathered here tonight, there
is a group of people who are always in search, born searchers, born to get lost, born
to get lost. Because that’s 98% of it and then suddenly, suddenly you’re home. All
people who are always in search of the power to sustain, the best of ourselves and
to seek out the best in you, our fans and our audience. We want to be great.
Like Neil says in his book, “Be great or be gone,” we want to be great, we want to
be important in your life, that was all that mattered to me. I didn’t care if I was
going to be a, I don’t know if it’s going to make it rich or be famous or but I
wanted to be great more than anything else, and I wanted to be important in your
Because you keep us in search of the force that reignites our gifts, our ability to
make you want to move, to dance, to love, to make love, to be angry, to act. When
we play, we want the hair to stand up on your arms; we want you to feel the glory.
And we want you to be glad of being alive. And really at the end of the day, that’s
all there is to it. My fellow musicians, young and old tonight, thanks for taking
care of me and taking care of my songs this evening. I’ll never forget it and I owe
each and every one of you; one. You made me feel like: Person of the Year. Now
give me that damn guitar.
Springsteen Set List
with Jake Clemons, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Cindy Mizelle, Curtis King
1. We Take Care of Our Own
2. Death to My Hometown (with Tom Morello)
3. Thunder Road (with Roy Bittan, Morello, Garry Tallent, Max Weinberg)
4. Born to Run (with Bittan, Morello, Tallent, Weinberg)
5. Glory Days (with Tribute Artists)
Tribute Set List
1. Adam Raised a Cain - ALABAMA SHAKES
2. Because the Night - PATTI SMITH
3. Atlantic City - NATALIE MAINES, BEN HARPER & CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE
4. American Land - KEN CASEY
5. My City of Ruins - ZAC BROWN & MAVIS STAPLES
6. I’m on Fire - MUMFORD & SONS
7. American Skin - JACKSON BROWNE featuring TOM MORELLO
8. My Hometown - EMMLOU HARRIS
9. One Step Up - KENNY CHESNEY
10. Streets of Philadelphia - ELTON JOHN
11. Hungry Heart - JUANES
12. Tougher Than the Rest - TIM MCGRAW & FAITH HILL
13. The Ghost of Tom Joad - TOM MORELLO & JIM JAMES
14. Dancing in the Sark - JOHN LEGEND
15. Lonesome Day - STING
16. Born in the U.S.A. - NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE